It’s fairly common knowledge at this point that I love two things more than anything: Space Jam and Bryan Adams. Bryan Adams was the go to guy for most early 90s soundtracks, and this week I’ll be exploring one of those movies. I think it’s been more fun lately to break down individual parts of movies rather than reviewing entire movies. That works for unexpectedly flawed classics like Pinocchio or Titanic, but it doesn’t work for movies we know are bad like Air Bud or Rookie of the Year. In situations like those movies it’s better to choose one part like a heist or military operation that has no business of succeeding.
When discussing poorly planned and executed military operations, the Cardinal’s plot from Three Musketeers really stands out. Cardinal Richelieu wanted to be King of France, despite already being the highest ranking official of the Catholic Church in the entire country. To achieve this goal, he plans to propose a deal with Duke of Buckingham of Britain before Britain invades France. The plan is to assassinate Louis, King of France, on his birthday as a display of power to Charles. Richelieu sends a treaty to the Duke by way of the Lady DeWinter, a spy and black widow with multiple dead husbands. In Richelieus’ mind, this somehow ends with him as King. This feels eerily similar to the Underpants Gnomes in South Park. Phase One: Kill King. Phase Two: ? Phase Three: Become King!
This plan has so many flaws, I feel like a basic bitch. I just can’t even. First and foremost, the movie begins with Richelieu and his main assistant Rochefort disbanding the Musketeers, a military order similar to the Secret Service. This is grossly historically inaccurate, but that’s immaterial to the movie. What matters is that Rochefort tells the Musketeers that they have been disbanded and will be phased into the infantry for the impending war with Britain. The problem is, Louis’ father was assassinated, so I can’t fathom how Richelieu justified disbanding the secret service. Next, Rochefort explains that all of the Musketeers must submit, and that if even one resists they will all be arrested. He then proceeds to tell the Cardinal that there are three Musketeers remaining in rebellion. Based on that, all of the Musketeers should be in jail right now. You can’t adopt a hard line stance and then immediately back away from it. Flashing forward, if they’d arrested all of the Musketeers, the plan still wouldn’t have succeeded, but the Cardinal would have escaped. Finally, we find out the Cardinal actually (somehow) had the King’s support for disbanding the Musketeers, just not necessarily so quickly. Why would the Cardinal rush disbanding them when all it would do is alert the King that they weren’t necessarily on the same side. A bad first step to your plot is alerting your target that you might be plotting.
The next flaw in Cardinal Richelieu’s plan is his choice of Lady DeWinter as his spy. He was obviously correct in his assumption that nobody would suspect a noblewoman traveling the countryside as a spy. However, she was well known for the deaths of her husbands, and we later discover she is a convicted murderer. I’m no expert on treasonous plots to assassinate royalty, but I think using a known criminal is a bad move. It’s like in Great Mouse Detective when Ratigan uses Fidget to conduct operations. Maybe don’t use the only flightless bat with a peg leg to do your dirty work, Ratigan.
Next, Richelieu only gives DeWinter two days to deliver the treaty, and explains that everything has to be in place within the next few days for the King’s birthday. Maybe give a slightly larger margin of error? Again, I’m no expert. But you set into motion a plot you’ve clearly been working on for a long time, and then needed everything to come together before a very specific moment. Actually, that was the wrong way to phrase it. You really only needed to make sure the letter got to its intended recipient before a very specific moment. The recipient didn’t need to do anything with the information. The assassination on the King’s birthday was a display of power, that’s it. So Richelieu could have sent the message literally any time before the week of the party, and it would have been fine.
So far we’ve really only dealt with in movie reasons this plot was definitely going to fail. But there’s also a couple of real world reasons this was a worse plan than investing in POGs. Sorry, I’m actually contractually obligated to have at least three 80s and 90s references per blog, and I’m getting close to the end here. First and foremost, I don’t think the Cardinal understands how royalty and nobility work. It’s established through bloodlines, that’s how royalty maintains that their leadership is ordained by God. Plus, every lesser noble in a kingdom knows how many steps they are from the throne. Assassinating the King would do nothing to get the Cardinal closer to the throne, it would just elevate another noble, who would IMMEDIATELY reinstate the Musketeers, since the last two Kings both fell to assassins.
Next, France has a history of revolutions. Do you really think the people of France, who we know do not like or trust the Cardinal, would sit back and watch as he assumed control and essentially became Supreme Leader of France? They would absolutely rise up and revolt after this incredibly transparent plot. And even if they didn’t, the Catholic Church would investigate and probably take steps to depose the Cardinal, since he has clearly gone renegade.
Finally, if Britain took over France, why in the world would the Cardinal expect to be crowned King? When colonizing territories, Britain was not exactly known for leaving that country with a King of its own. That would give the people someone to rally behind and potentially lead to a revolution, something Britain most certainly does not want. No, Britain would send over a governor who answered to the British crown. But even if for some reason Britain did decide to let a Frenchman rule France, there is no way it could be the Cardinal. Again, nobility comes from blood. That’s why in A Knight’s Tale, the prince had to tell the crowd that he had discovered William was from a long distant noble family. Even royalty can’t just decide someone is noble. I don’t know why I doubted myself on the references. I was always going to make it, I shouldn’t have gotten nervous.
Clearly, the Cardinal was a fool. I don’t care if he was played by national treasure Tim Curry, the plan was stupid. He tipped his hand early, chose a terrible messenger, worked in an unnecessarily tight timetable, and the entire plan hinged on the impossibility that he could somehow become King. And all of this was happening in a world where he was already allowed to do just about whatever he wanted anyway. You’re the ranking Church leader in the country of France, why do you care about being King? As it stands, you’re practically royalty and you don’t have to govern anyone. You have your own soldiers, free reign of the palace, and the only person you answer to is all the way in the Vatican. You aimed too high, and fell hard for it. Punched in the face by 1993 Charlie Sheen. Terrible Cardinal, just terrible.
That’s all for now gang, love and kisses!
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