The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan – Film Review

It is 1627, a time of conspiracies and rebellion in the heart of France. The inexperienced King Louis XIII (Louis Garrel) rules in a peaceful nation but war is brewing. Protestant and Catholic rivals look set to explode in violence and the King looks to Cardinal Richelieu (Eric Ruf) for guidance. However, the duplicitous Richelieu has schemes of his own at play…

At this time, the young noble D’Artagnan (François Civil) arrives in France from Gascony to join the King‘s musketeers. An elite fighting force, The Musketeers, guard and are loyal to the household of the King. D’Artagnan, now a cadet, has only been in France a few hours before he inadvertently insults the honour of three musketeers. The older Athos (Vincent Cassel), the suave Aramis (Romain Duris), and the jovial Porthos (Pio Marmaï). Each separately challenge the cadet to a dual but when circumstances lead the four men to collectively fight a common enemy, an inseparable bond of friendship is formed.

Unknowingly however, the four comrades find themselves embroiled in a fiendish plot to undermine the King. Athos is framed for a crime he would never have committed and is sentenced to death. To save his life, the others must prove his innocence and uncover a grand conspiracy, all the while trying to stay ahead of the beautiful yet deadly Milady de Winter (Eva Green), Cardinal Richelieu‘s chief spy and agent of chaos.

In 1844, Alexandre Dumas wrote possibly his greatest work, The Three Musketeers. In the 180 years since, the swashbuckling adventure has gone on to be incredibly influential across literature and film, inspiring countless other works. Direct adaptations have been plentiful as well, with the novel’s expansive story even allowing for several double feature retellings. For The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan, director Martin Bourboulon presents the first instalment in his epic 2-part take on this historical French tale.

As said, there have been many other adaptations of the novel yet Bourboulon‘s feels particularly authentic. Perhaps it is largely thanks to itself being a French production, yet the film manages to blend historical intrigue with bombastic action scenes which modern audiences won’t be able to help but find thrilling!

This first instalment characteristically features numerous sword fighting and horse chase sequences filmed with elaborate single take shots. But something I found myself truly grateful for was the focus on gunplay. It is surprising just how many “musketeer” films exist, forget about the whole “musket” part! The added quality of several actors, particularly François Civil, performing many of their own stunts, makes for a consistently intense experience.

The prestige of this film also comes from it featuring some of France’s most recognised actors. I’ve long been a fan of Vincent Cassel and Louis Garrel for over 20 years now and the two are brilliant here. Garrel‘s King wears his insecurities as prominently as his royal garments, a man who is on the verge of losing everything. While Cassel as the weary and damaged yet still dutiful hero is full of secrets and regrets. Eva Green for her part plays the role of an antagonist perfectly, but much of her story will be central to the plot of part two, fittingly titled The Three Musketeers: Milady.

The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan also makes for a beautiful sight to behold. The cinematography by Nicholas Bolduc not only benefits the film’s action sequences but also its wonderful costume design by Thierry Delettre. The grittiness of the time is portrayed but the vibrant colours of the outfits, and the on location film shoots shine through all the same. A far cry from the dreary washed out colour grading which plagued Ridley Scott’s Napoleon last year.

Action packed, visually stunning and intriguing, The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan fires on all cylinders. The only real downside is that it feels over far too soon and the cliffhanger ending may leave some audiences disappointed. Personally however, it left me excited to see where the story goes to next and I am highly anticipating the release of the second half of this fantastic epic.

The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan has a limited run and is available in good cinemas now.

Sign up to receive weekly updates on our most recent reviews.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *