The Three Musketeers: Part II

Review by Rich Cline | 3.5/5

The Three Musketeers: Milady
dir Martin Bourboulon
scr Matthieu Delaporte, Alexandre de La Patelliere
prd Dimitri Rassam, Jerome Seydoux
with Eva Green, Francois Civil, Vincent Cassel, Romain Duris, Pio Marmai, Louis Garrel, Vicky Krieps, Lyna Khoudri, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Camille Rutherford, Eric Ruf, Julien Frison
release Fr/UK 15.Dec.23
23/France Pathe 1h55

cassel duris krieps
D'Artagnan (2023)

Is it streaming?

green and civil
After the lively adventure D'Artagnan, this second chapter gets a bit bogged down in its complicated political entanglements. These aren't always easy to follow, even if the battles and especially the hand-to-hand combat is thrilling. And there are some strong emotional kicks in here as well. Director Martin Bourboulon is adept at establishing settings and characters, filming scenes with an exhilarating sense of movement. So it's engaging and visually striking.
Encountering the mysterious Milady de Winter (Green), who seemingly spies for all sides in France's burgeoning civil war, D'Artagnan (Civil) is given a clue about the location of his kidnapped love Constance (Khoudri) and heads out to find her. And Athos (Cassel) discovers Milady has a close connection to his late wife. Meanwhile, Artemis (Duris) is fighting for the honour of his pregnant-nun sister (Rutherford) with help from Porthos (Marmai). And the King and Queen (Garrel and Krieps) try to keep their heads while wondering who in their inner circle is trying to kill them.
All of this happens in between a variety of elaborately staged skirmishes, assaults and ambushes as Catholics loyal to the king battle with rebel Protestants and the Duke of Buckingham (Fortune-Lloyd) in England. The problem is that the lines are very blurry, because each side benefits from this war. So there aren't many people who speak the truth, and most are undermining the others for their own personal gain. Into this chaos charge the pure-of-heart musketeers, and the film's freewheeling approach makes their escapades thoroughly entertaining.

Green does a lot of arch scowling in this role, only rarely dropping Milady's carefully created larger-than-life persona. Her best scenes are opposite Civil, who gives D'Artagnan an earnest likeability that Milady flirtatiously tries to besmirch. Civil also gets the best action moments with fierce hand-to-hand struggles throughout the movie, while Cassel and Duris do plenty of terrific swashbuckling of their own, and Marmai provides some needed light comedy.

Any thematic depth gets a bit lost in the convoluted subterfuge. But the characters have superbly defined motivations that are never simplified, and they progress in ways that are surprising. This leads to several wonderfully messy confrontations along the way. Some of these are hugely satisfying, but most have more haunting nuances. And of course it all ends on a cliffhanger suggesting that there may be a Part 3 in the works.

cert 12 themes, violence 15.Dec.23

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© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall