Title – The King’s Man (2021)
Director – Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman: The Secret Service)
Cast – Ralph Fiennes, Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew Goode
Plot – In the early 20th century the beginnings of the Kingsman agency start to take hold as Orlando Oxford (Fiennes) and his associates look to end World War 1 before it threatens to destroy their home country of England.
“Reputation is what people think of you. Character is what you are”
Review by Eddie on 18/01/2022
A surprise smash hit in 2014, Matthew Vaughn’s first Kingsman film The Secret Service was a fun, exciting and inventive new take on the spy/action film hybrid with its more forgettable sequel The Golden Circle still an enjoyable romp despite a noticeable drop off in quality but not even the keenest of Kingsman fans will be able to steel themselves for the mostly charmless and surprisingly serious origin story Vaughn has taken the series too with The King’s Man.
Set in the early 20th century where Europe is at war and England’s freedom is threatened by a group of mad man hellbent on world domination, King’s Man follows the pre-Kingsman exploits of Ralph Fiennes widower Orlando Oxford and his teenage son Conrad (an unfortunately bland character played lifelessly by Harris Dickinson) who along with the help of their housekeepers and associates take it upon themselves to turn the tide of the great war in the favor of their beloved country.
In this set up there’s no time for the banter we got between Colin Firth’s Harry Hart or Taron Egerton’s streetwise wise-talker Eggsy, there’s no truly over the top flourishes outside of a few odd scenes mostly involving Rhys Ifan’s crazy take on Russian villain Grigori Rasputin (who could’ve done with a lot more screen time than he was granted by Vaughn) and overall it feels as though for some reason Vaughn has decided the unique and playful nature that made his series stand out from the crowd is no longer needed.
Never more prevalent is this aspect of the film than in an oddly bizarre detour to the World War 1 trenches as Conrad ventures to the front lines, this 20 or so minute mid-movie aspect might involve one of the films stand out action scenes but overall it feels like it’s from a completely different movie than what has come before it or what follows it and it’s an example of the film trying to do too many things at once, with too many characters like the didn’t need to show up Matthew Goode, Aaron Taylor-Johnson or Daniel Brühl, making King’s Man a film without a true identity or purpose.
Based of this very differently toned and delivered series entry, it’s hard to know exactly where Vaughn wishes to take his property from here on out but if there is to be more Kingsman adventures it would be wise to head back to the working book of the first film that provided a fresh take on a well-worn genre, only to find itself battling for its relevance less than a decade on.
Final Say –
Sadly this much delayed origin story is a mostly dull affair of a property that at one stage looked set to provide a fantastically fun cinematic journey, forgoing the fun that made people fall in love with it in the first case, The King’s Man has snippets of greatness but is an overall forgettable and dull adventure.
2 strong cups of tea out of 5