It’s difficult to do anything new with The Three Musketeers. Alexandre Dumas’s 1844 novel has been adapted countless times before, from silent star vehicles and Soviet musicals to endless Disney anthropomorphisms. The last big blockbuster rendering came in 2011: an abysmal glossy makeover by Paul W.S. Anderson (in 3D, no less). No such cinematic trickery in the new spin directed by Martin Bourboulon, hot off his recent Gustave Eiffel fantasy romcom starring Emma Mackey: this is gritty swashbuckling of the highest order, albeit dashed off with a smirk and glint in the eye.
This is gritty swashbuckling of the highest order.
The massive novel is divided into two parts, this first film focusing on the arrival of our headstrong hero D’Artagnan at the court of Louis XIII of France in the hope of becoming one of the King’s Musketeers. He’s effectively played by the baby-faced François Civil, star of hit French Netflix comedy Call My Agent! whose cast of representatives one can picture smoking slim cigarettes behind the camera. Indeed, there’s something uncanny about The Three Musketeers: D’Artagnan – it blends in with modern blockbuster cinema in scale, but somehow restores an ancien régime of filmmaking in its commitment to practical effects and on-location shooting. Perhaps because it is so unapologetically French.
Joining Civil’s D’Artagnan as the original Three Musketeers are international star Vincent Cassel as Athos, Pio Marmaï as a bisexual Porthos, and Romain Duris as Aramis, reuniting with Bourboulon after playing his leading man in Eiffel. They are accompanied by the crème de la crème of French actors, not least Louis Garrel as Louis and Eva Green as the scintillating, pipe-smoking Milady. Then there’s Vicky Krieps as Queen Anne, adding yet another language to her rapidly increasing roster, who offers a beautifully subtle counterpart to the bravado of our gallant quartet. Building to a barnstorming cliffhanger, consider our appetite for part two in December whetted.