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Paul W. S. Anderson, game boy

In the past decade, Anderson has continued to refine a rare attention to Aristotle's classical unities with the lubricious tempo shifts of an ace DJ, riding his soundtracks while slipping in and out of slo-mo breaks. Matching a maximum genius in crisply delineated action to a maximum monosyllabic inanity in dialogue, he has adapted such vaunted sources as PlayStation, Roger Corman and Alexandre Dumas père, the last named with The Three Musketeers.

Anderson with his wife and Resident Evil star, Milla Jovovich.
Matt Dames
Anderson with his wife and Resident Evil star, Milla Jovovich.

No less a personage than Quentin Tarantino included Musketeers in his Top 11 movies of 2011, for which he was promptly attacked by the legions of online 16th-wits who knee-jerk condemn as "trollish" any opinion that doesn't capitulate to consensus. In fact, Musketeers is ingenious in choreographing its vaulting, airborne action specifically to stereoscopic 3-D and the breadth of wide-screen — the aspect ratio that Anderson has exclusively favored since Alien vs. Predator. Although not an "actor's director" in the generally understood sense, Anderson does excel in building set pieces for axiomatic, physical screen presences like his wife, the lithe Milla Jovovich, in Musketeers and the Resident Evils, Russell in Soldier, or Jason Statham, the Rod Taylor of our day, in Death Race. That film's speedway splatter ends with the piece's villain killed by her own bomb — a trick Anderson enjoyed enough to repeat in Resident Evil: Apocalypse — as Ian McShane addresses a smirky "I love this game!" to the camera. It's a deeply silly aside, but the sentiment shows Anderson's approach to filmmaking, and it takes a crippling cool complex not to find his enthusiasm infectious.

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