THE THREE MUSKETEERS: PART II: MILADY movie poster | ©2024 Samuel Goldwyn Films/Pathé

THE THREE MUSKETEERS: PART II: MILADY movie poster | ©2024 Samuel Goldwyn Films/Pathé

Rating: Not Rated
Stars: François Civil, Vincent Cassel, Romain Duris, Pio Marmaï, Eva Green, Louis Garrel, Vicky Krieps, Lyna Khoudri, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, Eric Ruf, Marc Barbé, Patrick Mille, Julien Frison, Camille Rutherford
Writers: Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de La Patellière, based on the novel by Alexandre Dumas
Director: Martin Bourboulon
Distributor: Samuel Goldwyn Films/Pathé
Release Date: April 19, 2024

Essentially picking up from the “to be continued” cliffhanger ending of 2023’s THE THREE MUSKETEERS – PART I: D’ARTAGNAN, THE THREE MUSKETEERS – PART II: MILADY starts with a title telling us the year is 1627.

We get an onscreen written recap, accompanied by clips, of the previous film. We’re told that France is divided into two camps: Catholic royalists versus republican (small “r” – people who favor a republic over a monarchy) Protestants. Civil war looms.

The Musketeers – Athos (Vincent Cassel), Aramis (Romain Duris), Porthos (Pio Marmaï), and D’Artagnan (François Civil) – foil an assassination attempt on King Louis XIII (Louis Garrel), but it’s not known who was behind it. D’Artagnan’s love Constance (Lyna Khoudri) overhears a plot against the King, and is then kidnapped.

THE THREE MUSKETEERS PART II: MILADY begins with the news that the two captured would-be assassins have been found dead in their prison cells. An abbot suspected of conspiring with them has vanished. Despite the counsel of Musketeer Captain Treville (Marc Barbé), the King decides to send an army led by his brother Gaston (Julien Frison) to conquer the mostly Protestant stronghold of La Rochelle.

D’Artagnan is bound by his duties as a Musketeer, but is nevertheless determined to find Constance, while Athos and Aramis have some issues that seem new to the MUSKETEERS story.

As for the Milady of the title, she is portrayed by Eva Green, who makes us believe that the woman can do pretty much anything. This version, while it keeps Milady appropriately ruthless, is much more sympathetic to the character. Given the back story provided here, her behavior may not be justifiable, but it’s understandable.

Cassel projects sorrow and experience, while Civil is a properly impassioned young hero. Garrel makes for a shrewder King Louis than we usually get.

Both THE THREE MUSKETEERS – PART I: D’ARTAGNAN and THE THREE MUSKETEERS – PART II: MILADY are directed by Martin Bourboulon and scripted by Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de La Patellière, based on the novels by Alexandre Dumas.

In both films, the scenery, production design and historical structures are gorgeous – look at all those castles! – and there are sword fights, knife fights, fist fights and fire fights enough to keep any period action fan happy.

But where D’ARTAGNAN more or less follows the familiar beginning of the tale – how D’Artagnan becomes involved with the established trio, retrieving the jewelry of Queen Anne (Vicky Krieps) from the Duke of Buckingham (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd), etc. – MILADY gets considerably more complicated, with a narrative that can for better and worse be described as sprawling.

Between the personal drama and the political intrigue, there’s a lot to juggle, so much so that the friendship between the Musketeers gets relatively short shrift. We know that these men are bonded to one another because it’s a given, not because we’re made to feel it.

By the same token, we’ve got such a plethora of bad guys to track that there isn’t any one person we need to see get his comeuppance. With all of this heroism and villainy on hand, it seems like we ought to have more investment in the proceedings.

Like PART I: D’ARTAGNAN, THE THREE MUSKETEERS – PART II: MILADY ends on a cliffhanger, suggesting that this will be a trilogy. MILADY piques our curiosity enough for us to want to know how further events will play out.

In French and English, with English subtitles.

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