Director: Martin Bourboulon
Cast: François Civil, Vincent Cassel, Romain Duris, Pio Marmaï, Eva Green
Runtime: 2 hrs 2 mins
Rating: NC16 (Some Nudity and Violence)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 30 November 2023
Synopsis: From the Louvre to Buckingham Palace, to the gutters of Paris to the siege of La Rochelle… In a kingdom divided by religious wars and under threat of British invasion, a handful of men and women will cross swords and tie their fate to that of France.
Based on Alexandre Dumas's 1844 novel, The Three Musketeers, which is rich and exhilarating effortlessly translates into film, and that too, a high-gloss French costume movie. Three Musketeers: Part I - D'Artagnan that is set against a climate of war and revolts hinges on an imperative restoration of the French king's crown.
King Louis XIII's Musketeers Athos, Porthos and Aramis (Vincent Cassel, Pio Marmai and Romain Duris) who are hailed as the pillars of society goes on a crusade to battle the opposing influences. While the commanding trio aren’t allowed to dole out their own justice, they are given enough powers to take a swipe at any threat that presents itself. What seems like an uphill battle is then negated by a young ardent swordsman played by François Civil who journeys up to Paris in the hope of becoming one of the elite King's Musketeers before having a run-in with the aforesaid veterans. The impetuous three against one spar gets shortly interrupted by paramilitary corps. And this births the union of the four amigos.
The first of the two-part franchise boasts a pastel opening that allows the preluding scenes to speak for itself and that which are sensed to tie up loose ends in the second instalment with a man on a galloping horse against a colossal alpine, in what seems like unforgiving cold. And a couple of minutes into the plot, Eva Green makes a silent but prevailing entry. Brutal, cold and vengeful is child’s play for the phenomenal actress who has given her counterparts a run for their money with her appearances in Camelot, Dark Shadows, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, and 300: Rise of an Empire.
Endowed with a superpower to blend her cold on-screen demeanour with her prominent squared off jawline, Green who plays a chic hitwoman raises the bar of female antagonists to a sky-high mark. As debated by some who are accustomed to Faye Dunaway's rendition of the contender in the old English version, it would be a fair crack of the whip to know that the French actress and model is exactly how the French filmmakers must have imagined Milady de Winter to be in this lavish production.
Nevertheless, Green steals the show and makes everyone wait with bated breath for more of her sinisterism in the upcoming sequel, that holds substantial space for some backstory. The supremacy of the cast ensemble doesn't just end there. As cliché as it might be, silence do speak volumes. And Vincent Cassel backs it up with an incomparable performance.
The César Awardee gives a neck-and-neck performance in this 121-minute film, especially in the trial scene sans any dialogue, where he delivers his 'lines' through his intense countenance.
History buff or not, the magnificent landscapes, astounding architecture, sensibly stylish costumes and spectacular fight scenes where it brilliantly dovetails with camera works, absolutely make up for the dreaded cliffhanger, “To be continued…” that drew exasperated sighs at the end.
Apparently, there are a couple of prototype Musketeers movies, such as The Man in the Iron Mask where Leonardo DiCaprio plays King Louis, 1948 and 1973 versions, along with the 1993 Disney’s adaptation that features an evergreen classic by Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart and Sting. The badgering to either opt for a fresh stance, given the opulence of the setting, era and elements, or give the old a proper do-over instead of meandering in between is as loud as the gunshots aired in this costume drama directed by Martin Bourboulon. While falling short of a highly-anticipated swashbuckling quest, the gritty film that has faith and politics interweaved into a tapestry of conspiracy promises slow burn and escapism with raw and unparalleled visual aspects that may be a rare find in recent releases.
(An arty diversion brilliantly shot in two dominant colours that toggles between wintry and fiery ambiences, with a narrative that pivots on political intrigue featuring Napoleonic war horses, duels, taverns and French gunnery)
Review by Asha Gizelle Mariadas