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(Check out Chris Reed’s The Three Musketeers – Part 2: Milady movie review. It’s in theaters now via Samuel Goldwyn Films.Seen it? Join the conversation with HtN on our Letterboxd Page.)

If you enjoyed French director Martin Bourboulon’s The Three Musketeers – Part I: D’Artagnan, released in the United States last fall, have I got good news for you: its sequel, The Three Musketeers – Part 2: Milady, is now available, both in theaters and online. Picking up exactly where the last film left off (with a brief opening recap to get viewers up to speed), the sequel offers many more skirmishes, and even a full-scale battle, to satisfy everyone’s swashbuckling needs. If the story proves at times distressingly scattered in its focus, that fact barely detracts from the larger pleasures on display.

As the title indicates, this installment focuses more intensely on the mysterious Milady de Winter (Eva Green, Nocebo) than the first one, though without ever revealing too much of her backstory. She’s a pure villain in Alexandre Dumas’ source text, but here she is given additional shades of nuance, allowing her more dimensions than just one. This more modern Milady is also one hell of a physical fighter, at the very least the equal of our protagonists, the four musketeers (that’s three plus D’Artagnan).

The year is 1627 and France is on the edge of a religious civil war, Catholics against Protestants. After Part I’s assassination attempt on Louis XIII (Louis Garrel, Scarlet), everyone is on edge, finding the conspirators their primary objective. D’Artagnan’s love interest, Constance Bonacieux (Lyna Khoudri, Haute Couture) has been kidnapped, presumably because she knows who the responsible parties are, leaving D’Artagnan (François Civil, Rise) bereft and desperate.

The titular three—Aramis (Romain Duris, Eiffel), Athos (Vincent Cassel, Damaged), and Porthos (Pio Marmaï, Yannick)—each have their own additional concerns, frequently intersecting with the primary narrative. We bounce around a lot between the various plot threads, with Milady’s scheming, much of it at the direction of the crafty Cardinal Richelieu (Eric Ruf, My Dog Stupid), providing the energetic backbone for the dramatic events that fill the movie’s almost-two-hour runtime. Bourboulon delivers a wild ride, though the baroque structure this time around proves sometimes confusing. Then again, there is the occasional joke, which always helps.

As a tween and teen, I read Dumas with glee and gusto, his Musketeers books and The Count of Monte Cristo a font of enormous entertainment. I was, however, always disturbed by the presentation of Milady as pure evil, especially given the complicity of another major character in contributing to her present state. I am happy to report that although the contours of the story remain more or less the same, Milady is granted more audience sympathy, to the benefit of the adaptation.

Once again, the ensemble is game. Bullets fly, épées slash, and the King and Queen (Vicky Krieps, Hold Me Tight) face threats to their realm. It’s a rollicking good time, given gravitas by the melancholy that emerges from occasional tragedy. If not everything lands with equal clarity, “All for one and one for all” still rings true.

– Christopher Llewellyn Reed (@ChrisReedFilm)

Samuel Goldwyn Films; Martin Bourboulon; The Three Musketeers – Part 2: Milady movie review

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Christopher Llewellyn Reed is a film critic, filmmaker, and educator. A member of both the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and the Washington DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA) and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, he is: lead film critic at Hammer to Nail; editor at Film Festival Today; formerly the host of the award-winning Reel Talk with Christopher Llewellyn Reed, from Dragon Digital Media; and the author of Film Editing: Theory and Practice. In addition, he is one of the founders and former cohosts of The Fog of Truth, a podcast devoted to documentary cinema.

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