Friday, April 19, 2024

The Three Musketeers Part II: Milady

Technically, Twenty Years After was the sequel to The Three Musketeers. However, the previous film only told half the story of Dumas’s first D’Artagnan novel, even though both parts of the story were shot together, Lord of the Rings-style. War has broken out, but fighting is what the King’s Musketeers do best. For them, spycraft and courtly treason are more dangerous in Martin Bourboulon’s The Three Musketeers Part II: Milady, which opens today in theaters.

The Three Musketeers saved the King at the end of
Part I: D’Artagnan, but Athos awkwardly suspects his Protestant brother was involved. More ominously, they conclude there must be a traitor in court, very near the King. D’Artagnan’s lover Constance Bonacieux discovered the conspirator’s identity, which is why she was kidnapped at the end of the first film.

Much to his shock, D’Artagnan is also abducted by the Comte de Chalais, whose position as the leader of the Catholic League had placed above reproach. His henchmen cannot hold a good Musketeer for long, but when D’Artagnan rescues the Comte’s other captive, he is shocked to find Milady instead of Bonacieux. Of course, he is disappointed, but maybe not as disappointed as he should be.

Even though
Part I seemed to be headed in a Queen Margot direction, when seen in its entirety, Bourboulon’s Three Musketeers is surprisingly faithful to the Dumas novel. Part II delivers more rousing swordplay and musketry action, while Bourboulon and cinematographer Nicholas Bolduc make spectacular use of the Bordeaux scenery. The second film is even more dynamic than the first, so it would be preferable to see it on a bigger screen.

Vincent Cassel, Romain Duris, and Pio Marmai are all a great deal of fun as the original Three Musketeers. Francois Civil and Lyna Khoudri had nice chemistry in the first film, so viewers will really root for D’Artagnan and Bonacieux to get back together in film #2. Marc Barbe stands out more as Captain Treville this time around, in a cool and steely older cat kind of way. Best of all, Eva Green continues to be a fab femme fatale playing the [sub]titular Milady.

Bourboulon really leans into the epic sweep of the novel, but to his credit, he never shies away from its tragic elements. That is another reason why the combined films are such a faithful adaptation.
Part II is a lot of fun, even when bad things happen to good characters. Frankly, Part I sorts of appreciates when viewers look back on it after watching Part II, which makes it the opposite of The Matrix sequels. Very highly recommended for fans of swashbuckling, The Three Musketeers Part II: Milady opens today (4/19) in Los Angeles at the Laemmle Royal.