TWO STARS - SHALLOW
When God expressed in Deuteronomy that “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” He was giving us the best way to deal with both our need for justice and the danger of vengeance. When evil attacks our lives, our souls are in danger of either rolling over and letting evil win, or giving in to evil in a vengeful reaction, such that evil wins as well. In contrast to such a reaction, looking to God to avenge wrong comes from a place of seeking justice and responsibility rather than vengeance and retaliation. Though this is a difficult line to walk it is attempted by D’Artagnan (Justin Chambers) in the most recent version of “The Musketeer.”
Based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas, the story begins when D’Artagnan watches the evil Febre (Tim Roth) murder his father and mother before his young eyes. Wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Musketeer, his father’s mentor comes to raise him. As D’Artangnan is kneeling at the grave of his parents his vengeance overtakes his soul and he asks his new mentor to “teach me to kill just as you taught my father.” To this request, he is told, “I did not teach your father how to kill, but how to live.”
Though the pacifist rejects the idea that any force can be used to stop evil, the need to take up arms against evil’s oppression has been a tenet of “just war” theology for centuries. A good person does not learn the skills of warfare or police work to kill but to stop evil from killing innocent people, using force only if necessary.
Portraying evil as the work of only one man, it is easy to see the cold-hearted center of a person who can plot the deaths of others without remorse. But if evil is only in the cold-hearted, then the solution presented in the resolution of this film is to simply kill him. But evil is far greater than only one man. It rests not just in the cold-hearted but also in the hot-hearted loved ones of his victims whose anger is fueled by his actions.
In a choreographed scene like those in the battles of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” D’Artagnan and Febre struggle with one another to the death on ladders that precariously balance on beams high above the floor. The symbolism of the scene works well as D’Artagnan attempts to find his balance between weakness and vengeance to a justice that must face and conquer the evil that has attacked his family and his life.
But when the fight is over and D’Artagnan is being honored by the king, evil is still present in the scene and his battle is clearly not yet over. It is this truth that evil rests within the hearts of human beings and their institutional systems that is difficult to solve. If evil is ever to be effectively confronted, it must be exposed in both its simplicity and its complexity and both brought under the power of God to avenge them with justice.
In the face of the horrific evil our nation experienced in the recent terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the study of evil in “The Musketeer” is both a microcosm of the larger reality and an inadequate exploration of its dynamics. Any solution that does not rest on the power of God is only fiction.