“I don’t insinuate. I am the King.”

Louis XIII

Since the invention of cinema, Alexander Dumas’ swashbuckling serial of adventure and intrigue has provided fertile inspiration for filmmakers. This decade’s update arrives as a two-part French epic, the first French adapation in over 60 years. Opening with a brawl in mud and rain, D’Artagnan begins his adventure by literally pulling himself out of a shallow grave, setting the film’s darker tone. Martin Bourboulon contrasts the grimy streets of Paris with the warm golds of the aristocracy’s furnishings. The impressive cinematography keeps action visible even in the dark, whilst maintaining a strictly controlled colour palette, most scenes featuring only a single hue. At times the film subtly adopts D’Artagnan’s perspective through sound design and visuals, like the muffled audio as he recovers after being flung from his horse, or a nighttime ambush where we see only the blades of his attackers as they strike from off-screen. The biggest names deliver the most impressive performances — a brooding Vincent Cassel as the falsely accused Athos, and Eva Green vamping as Richelieu’s spy, Milady. Played straight (though retaining a dash of humour), the pacing may be a little slow for some viewers but I found this to be easily the most polished of The Three Musketeers’ recent adaptations.