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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
Enjoyable, if belated, third instalment in Richard Lester's "Musketeers" series.
It's nice to see many of the original cast members back for this third "Musketeers" movie, even though 15 years has elapsed since the second film. Usually such a long hiatus would have resulted in changes of personnel and style, but here we have a refreshing example of that NOT being the case. They even have the same director (Richard Lester), which helps to explain why the old mix of slapstick, political intrigue, sex and action is still so effective. Before I actually saw The Return Of The Musketeers, I was foolish enough to listen to all the negative critical buzz surrounding the film. As a result I came to it already prejudiced, expecting it to be a tired, listless, unworthy end to the trilogy (as many reviewers had suggested). Not so.... this is a most enjoyable instalment, and those who say otherwise are, frankly, wrong!
The musketeers as we remember them have long since gone their separate ways. D'Artagnan (perenially youthful Michael York) is the only one still employed as a musketeer, but he now works for the King - and rather less money! He is galvanised back into action when entrusted by the Cardinal Mazzarin (Phillipe Noiret) to deal with the rise of Beaufort supporters in the wake of Cromwell's rise to power in England. However, he soon has more to worry about than a mere rebellion when it becomes apparent that a name from the past has returned to exact revenge on each of the musketeers. That name is Justine de Winter, daughter of Milady de Winter (the female villain that Faye Dunaway played in the earlier films, who was eventually captured and beheaded by the musketeers). With Justine out for revenge, D'Artagnan has to track down his old friends - some of whom are Beaufort supporters and therefore the very people he should be fighting against - and together they ride again into various adventures and dangers.
There are certainly some problems with The Return Of The Musketeers, but none of them undermine the film as much as its detractors would have us believe. Firstly, Kim Cattrall plays Justine in too contemporary a style and this jars with the film's period trappings. Secondly, Richard Chamberlain's character, the musketeer Aramis, is not in the story much and the scripters have tried to compensate for his absence by introducing the character of Raoul, son of Athos. Alas, Raoul is both unnecessary to the story (he was mentioned in the book, but not used whatsoever as a key figure) and rather poorly played by C. Thomas Howell - another actor too contemporary for the surroundings. Apart from that, this is a most enjoyable movie with plenty of exciting sequences and good humour. In particular, there are several action sequences which are given a lovely element of slapstick (check out the wonderfully funny opening sequence, for example). The plot is quite complex and hard to keep up with - as, indeed, it was in the two earlier instalments - but the lively pacing and frequent bursts of action keep the audience engrossed. Many reviewers have already commented that this was Roy Kinnear's last film (he died following a horse-riding accident on the set), so I won't add too much to what has already been said. I will, however, say that Kinnear's performance in the film is comedy at its finest and this whole film is a lovely tribute to a lovely man and his considerable comic talents.
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