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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
The Return of the Muketeers marks the reunion of the cast of the best adaptation of Dumas' novel. Here, they take up the story of the sequel, The Twenty Years After. Unfortunately, it would mark the untimely end of the life and wonderful career of actor Roy Kinnear. Ironically, the tragedy is in keeping with the darker tone of the novel.
Spoliers-D'Artagnan is still a lieutenant in the King's Musketeers, his companions having retired to estates and abbeys. D'Artagnan finds himself tasked by Cardinal Mazarin to undermine the rebellion of Beufort and the Frondists. He also finds himself the target of Milady's legacy; her evil daughter.
The film starts out a bit slow, seemingly having trouble finding its footing. It picks up when the other Musketeers enter the picture and as the film progresses. Unfortunately, the tragic accident suffered by Roy Kinnear casts a palor over the ending.
The original cast is as good now as in the original films. Philippe Noiret was a fine addition as Mazarin. Jean-Pierre Cassel returns, this time as Cyrano De Bergerac. Kim Cattrall is a mixed bag; she has some good moments, but her overall performance is lacking. C. Thomas Howell is completely forgettable as Athos' son, Raoul.
Part of the problem with this film is that Mazarin never seems as formidable as Richelieu and Cattrall is a poor caricature of Faye Dunaway. The scheming nature of Aramis is nicely illustrated by Richard Chamberlain, and Frank Finlay provides a wonderful turn as Porthos. Oliver Reed was sliding quickly into the depths of his career at this point, but he has many fine moments.
One wonders if the film would have been better without the tragedy that befell it? Certainly, it affected the actors' performances. Still, the script was a bit lacking and budgetary restraints did hurt as well. It would have been interesting to see the group tackle the final Musketeer installment, The Man in the Iron Mask. They certainly could have improved upon the Randall Wallace version. All-in-all, the film is fine entertainment for a quiet evening or a rainy weekend.
One note of trivia: Philippe Noiret would later play D'Artagnan in Bertrand Tavernier's Revenge of the Musketeers.
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