The Man in the Iron Mask begins with a tour through France’s famous
prison,  the Bastille.  We see men in cages with straw as beds, men 
chained to the wall, cruel guards whipping them.  As we pan through 
this dark mess, which with good reasons seems more Braveheart than The 
Three Musketeers, we learn that when the Bastille was liberated during 
the French revolution, a cryptic reference was found to an obscure 
prisoner number, who was labeled as “the man in the iron mask”.  No 
sooner has that slipped across our minds, then I already had high hopes
for this film.  
	Leonardo DiCaprio, star of the blockbuster Titanic, probably has as
much credit to take for The Man in the Iron Mask’s opening success 
(Titanic beat it buy less than a quarter of a million dollars last 
weekend, the first movie to come close to toppling the ship-sinking 
epic) as do his more seasoned co-stars, John Malkovich as Athos; Jeremy
Irons, the warrior turned priest Aramis; Gabriel Byrne as D’Argtanan 
and Gerard Depardu in a lacklarthy turn as Porthos.
	Leonardo is the latest teen heartthrob, the only thing is, this guy
has actual talent.  As the cruel Louis, he is able to switch between 
seductive and ruthless.  DiCaprio’s Louis switches from a man you would
follow to the end of the world and back, and a man who will kill his 
own Musketeers to further his womanizing ways.  As Philippe, the twin 
locked in an iron mask, he brings curiosity, naivete, and compassion to
the role.
	John Malkovich brings a passion to Athos that Keifer Sutherland’s 
Athos (The Three Musketeers - Disney - 1993) failed to do.  This is 
Malkovich’s most stirring performance since In the Line of Fire.  
Jeremy Irons is missing some of his usual eccentricity that he usually 
brings to any role, but he is magnificent as a priest who must decide 
to follow his King, his God, or his former comrades-in-arms.  
	Gabriel Byrne, best known for his role in the Academy Award winning
film Usual Suspects, delivers his best performance since.  As
D’Argtanan (portrayed by the talent less Chris O’Donnell in Disney’s 
‘93 Musketeer movie), Byrne clearly is a man who can act with great 
talent, surpassing Malkovitch and DiCaprio with ease.  Unfortunately, 
Gerard Depardu, can’t bring much fire to his performance as Porthos, 
the womanizer of the Musketeers.  He has nothing to do but make 
sometimes funny jokes, squeeze the women, and wander aimlessly around 
as comic-relief.  
	Randall Wallace, first time director and award winning writer of 
Braveheart rises to the challange with this loose re-telling of 
Alexandre’s Durmas’ The Man in the Iron Mask, the third of his “Three 
Musketeers” stories.  The writing is superb, the direction is fantastic.
The climax is spectacular, a triumph of all aspects of filmaking that 
will go down in time as one of the top scenes of all times, rating with
“I am your father,” from Empire Strikes Back, “In another time, another
place...” from Casablance and “You’ll live to be an old, old lady...” 
from the more recent Titanic.  This is a definite “must-see-in-
theatres” film.  Go see it, as they say all for one, and one for all...

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