Running Time: 114 mins
UK Distributor: Entertainment Film Distribution
UK Release Date: 15 December 2023
WHO’S IN THE THREE MUSKETEERS: MILADY?
François Civil, Vincent Cassel, Pio Marmaï, Romain Duris, Eva Green, Lyna Khoudri, Louis Garrel, Vicky Krieps, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Alexis Michalik, Patrick Mille, Ivan Franek, Ralph Amoussou, Thibault Vinçon, Éric Ruf, Julien Frison, Marc Barbé, Camille Rutherford
WHO’S BEHIND THE CAMERA?
Martin Bourboulon (director), Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de La Patellière (writers), Dimitri Rassam and Jérôme Seydoux (producers), Guillaume Roussel (composer), Nicolas Bolduc (cinematographer), Stan Collet (editor)
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
D’Artagnan (Civil) reluctantly teams with Milady de Winter (Green) for a rescue mission…
WHAT ARE MY THOUGHTS ON THE THREE MUSKETEERS: MILADY?
Almost eight months have passed since the first part of director Martin Bourboulon’s ambitious two-part adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, and I feel like I’ve seen hundreds of movies since them (probably because, well, I have). So, forgive me for not having the clearest memory of that first half, subtitled D’Artagnan – though they do handily recap it at the very start like it’s an episode of a serialised TV show – though I do recall that, for the most part, it was an entertaining enough ride with impressive production values and fun performances, albeit at the expense of really getting to identify with some of the central characters.
As it turns out, they were saving that significant character work for this second part, subtitled Milady, which gives certain figures more than their fair share of captivating screen time, which is enough to keep the momentum going in an otherwise decent second half.
The film begins shortly after – spoiler alert for those who haven’t yet seen the first half – D’Artagnan (François Civil), the strapping young hero who’s just been anointed as a musketeer by King Louis XIII (Louis Garrel), has watched his love interest Constance (Lyna Khoudri) be abducted by forces conspiring against the crown. Desperate to rescue his beloved, D’Artagnan soon unexpectedly reunites with the mysterious Milady de Winter (Eva Green), the ruthless spy for the scheming Cardinal Richelieu (Éric Ruf), who is seeking a way to escape her past crimes as war between Catholics and Protestants looms in France.
Said war takes up most of the time of our titular three musketeers Athos (Vincent Cassel), Porthos (Pio Marmaï) and Aramis (Romain Duris), who each have their own things going on, from Athos facing certain figures from his past, to Aramis going after the guy who impregnated his nun sister Mathilde (Camille Rutherford), to Porthos mostly just laying around getting drunk. However, not even all-out war can stop the trio (or quartet, if you include D’Artagnan) from teaming up and fighting the injustices from within, many of which trace back to the malicious femme fatale herself.
One of the things that I remember noticing about The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan was that most of the character development was given to almost everyone but the three musketeers themselves, who were just kind of there as they drifted in and out of the plot whenever required (Vincent Cassel’s Athos was imprisoned for most of it, from what I recall). That being said, The Three Musketeers: Milady does give them more opportunities to shine in addition to other prominent characters, with some interesting side-narratives that expand on their basic but still recognisable personality traits. Often, they can even score some decent laughs, with one of the sub-plots, the one involving Aramis’ search for his sister’s baby daddy, ending in such an abrupt but darkly funny manner that you could make an argument that it wasn’t necessary to include, but seeing how it did get a pretty big chuckle out of me and other people in my audience, I guess it has a valid reason for existing.
Despite the various side-quests, Bourboulon’s film still manages to keep the plot focused on what is necessary, including the expansion of Milady de Winter’s character, whom Eva Green utterly relishes in bringing to life. Green has played many a baddie before, some with similar arcs such as in 300: Rise of an Empire where she was admittedly allowed to let more loose than she is here, but the role of Milady de Winter is perfect for the actor to lose herself in, as she is written to be conniving and cold-hearted, but also deeply troubled and even tragic, all of which are things that Green is more than capable of capturing and more. Needless to say, Eva Green is the best part of The Three Musketeers: Milady, as hers is both the best character and the best performance of the lot, as well as the singular aspect of the overall plot that you’re most engaged with.
As in the previous film, the action is also lively and well-made, with numerous sequences shot to look like one continuous take, and you can definitely see the overall €72 million budget (which includes both this and the first part) on the screen in several sweeping shots of the vast French environments. However, even with all of that going for it, The Three Musketeers: Milady struggles to end the two-part production on a wholly satisfactory note. There are certain changes made to significant parts of the story, including the fate of one particular character that ends up making said person look particularly dumb for having practically brought it upon themselves.
Much of the rest of the conclusion feels rushed, and then it has the audacity to end with another cliffhanger, which is made all the more frustrating by the fact that, as of writing, there appear to be no plans for a third part, despite many loose ends still dangling by the time the credits start rolling. The first part at least felt more like a complete film, and its own cliffhanger ending was carried by the fact that there would definitely be closure in the near future, whereas The Three Musketeers: Milady fumbles its own chances of feeling just as much of a standalone.
Still, for as flawed and inconsistent as this overall Three Musketeers adaptation has been, at least they’ve been more watchable than that crappy Paul W.S. Anderson one from 2011. That, alone, makes me happy that these movies exist, even if I’ll likely never rewatch them in the future.
SO, TO SUM UP…
The Three Musketeers: Milady concludes the ambitious two-part adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ novel with some strong action and plentiful character work, particularly Eva Green as the titular Milady de Winter, but its lack of a satisfying ending leaves a number of threads frustratingly hanging.