The Musketeer

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As 2001: The Year of the Mediocre Film stumbles toward its dull finale, Hollywood puts in all the stops and foists another cookie-cutter action trauma upon us. It’s called “The Musketeer,” and guess what? It’s exactly like every other movie!

OK, not exactly. This one uses foils and rapiers instead of guns, and horses instead of cars. Also, thanks to movies like “The Matrix” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” the people in this movie are not bound by the laws of gravity. Instead of being amazing (as in the movies just cited), however, it just looks like someone wanted Character X to get from point A to point B and couldn’t think of a logical way to do it, so they said, “Aw, heck, just let him fly.”

The film, directed by Peter Hyams (“End of Days”) and written by Gene Quintano (“Operation Dumbo Drop,” “Police Academy 4”), is based on Alexander Dumas’s “The Three Musketeers,” in the sense that both have the word “musketeer” in the title.

Our hero is D’Artagnan (Justin Chambers), whose parents were killed when he was a child by the evil Febre (Tim Roth). Now, as a grown-up, he wants to become a musketeer, defend honor and justice, and avenge his parents’ death.

It’s a difficult time for musketeers, though, as the cowardly Cardinal Richelieu (Stephen Rea) has suspended them all so his cohort Febre can carry out his own particular style of sword-based justice throughout France.

D’Artagnan gets in good with three real musketeers, a hot teen-age girl (Mena Suvari), and the Queen (Catherine Deneuve). Together, they plan … er, something. Despite being a really simple story, the movie manages to make it complicated. It involves thwarting, I know that.

Justin Chambers pretty much e-mails in his performance. His delivery is flat and uncharismatic, his screen presence is nil. His interaction with Mena Suvari is restricted to arch dialogue and flirting.

The film takes itself too seriously, which means it has the opposite reaction to itself that audiences will have to it. The lone exception is Tim Roth, who has fun with his sniveling villain role and seems to know how ridiculous his surroundings are.

Altogether, the thing comes off more like an action-movie parody on “The Simpsons” than an actual action movie. It follows all the patterns, cliches and expectations as if copying them from a template.

C- (; PG-13, some very mild profanity, lots of sword-based violence.)

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