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It's 1649: Mazarin hires the impoverished D'Artagnan to find the other musketeers: Cromwell has overthrown the English king, so Mazarin fears revolt, particularly from the popular Beaufort. Porthos, bored with riches and wanting a title, signs on, but Aramis, an abbé, and Athos, a brawler raising an intellectual son, assist Beaufort in secret. When they fail to halt Beaufort's escape from prison, the musketeers are expendable, and Mazarin sends them to London to rescue Charles I. They are also pursued by Justine, the avenging daughter of Milady de Winter, their enemy 20 years ago. They must escape England, avoid Justine, serve the Queen, and secure Beauford's political reforms. Written by
This fun instalment of the Musketeers series (fifteen years after 'The Four Musketeers' was released) reunites the original four cast members (Michael York still looking impossibly young as D'Artagnan, now in the King's army; Oliver Reed on good form as Athos, now with a weedy son Raoul (C Thomas Howell) who really doesn't need to be there; Frank Finlay in a very silly wig as Porthos and still accident prone; and Richard Chamberlain as Aramis, now an Abbe and the Queen's confessor, but ready (eventually) to join in the swordsplay).
Kim Cattrall appears as Justine de Winter, daughter of Milady, and is completely inadequate. Making a return are Christopher Lee as Rochefort, and Roy Kinnear (who died during filming) as long-suffering servant Planchet; and fine additions to the cast include Alan Howard as Oliver Cromwell, Bill Paterson as Charles I, Jean-Pierre Cassell as Cyrano de Bergerac (an idiot who thinks geese will help him fly in a balloon to the moon) and Philippe Noiret as Mazarin.
Is it as good as the 1970s instalments, also directed by Lester? The sword fights are there (and also an hilarious scene involving trapdoors in the rooms of Justine de Winter); there's the usual set of stunts and slapstick; and there's the darker sections - Athos remembering Milady, the execution of Charles I, the young French king imprisoned in the Tower, the gunpowder-laden ship.
For me the cast member who is most memorable (as in the earlier films) is Oliver Reed, in a perfect part which gives him chance to get lots of references to alcohol in there (in one bit son Raoul offers him tea 'a new infusion', which Athos sprays out after a swig when being told there's no alcohol in it!), has him stuck in a castle window, and plummeting into a water tank from the punctured balloon. Aside from the funny bits, he's at home with the serious stuff too - proving yet again that he could act when he wanted to.
There's lots in 'Return of the Musketeers' to brighten your day and it was great to see the boys back for one last fling.
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