Thursday, April 18, 2013

Irma Vep in Meung-sur-Loire

The Three Musketeers (2011)
directed by Paul W. S. Anderson
rating: 2 out of 5 cravats
on DVD from Netflix

There is a great story at the heart of The Three Musketeers, and it involves (not surprisingly) Anderson's wife. I do not know if Anderson is responsible for this particular Milady de Winter, or the writers, or Dumas himself. Maybe there was no role at all for Milla, but she insisted there should be. She isn't on the poster, and the part, theoretically relevant to the plot, exists entirely on its own, influencing (yet not influencing) the characters around her; she moves through every important scene like a ghost. If Milady didn't exist, the movie still could, albeit with one or two amended, slightly foggy motivations.

That movie would be bad: bloated and silly. Athos is a frogman, Aramis a ninja, and Porthos a shade of a shade of Gogo Yubari. They rob a single set of blueprints from "DaVinci's Vault" - designed to protect the "plans of his greatest inventions" - then thuggishly destroy the entire marbled set on the way out of town. In contradiction to my own understanding of chivalry and fair play, D'Artagnan (in fact D'Artagnan's son) leaves his sword impaled in the chest of a bad guy and gloats over it.

The blueprints build airships, and the airships are relevant in the war that Richeliu wants to start with England. Jovovich apparently complained that the studio did not sufficiently promote The Three Musketeers as a "family" film, which it very much is: sidekicks, tart retorts, Orlando Bloom. It's also a crime caper. Bloom does his best impression of Jaime Lannister, and it's a good one. Only Jaime Lannister is worthy of Milady de Winter.

He gets her, but he doesn't keep her. Ditto Athos. Milady helps take the blueprints, then poisons the Musketeers. She's a double-agent for Richeliu and for Buckingham too, and ends up alone in the ocean, left for dead. There is every reason to believe she loves Athos deeply, but when forced to kill him to effect her escape, she does not hesitate (the gun misfires). He cannot do the same to her, so she gets away clean. She is nowhere and everywhere at the same time, and the smartest person in the room. Too smart for The Three Musketeers, to the degree that it's positively subversive to have her there at all.