‘The King’s Man’- Film Review

The King’s Man is one of the movies to finally come out when we all thought it was never gonna come out after its numerous delays (five times to be exact). At least I don’t have to sit through the trailers now after seeing them in front of sixteen movies. But, because it’s the third entry in the franchise and director Matthew Vaughn came out, there wasn’t any excitement to look forward to with the latest addition to the franchise. Everything was going in the right direction after loving 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service as it was an excellent and stylish adaptation of Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’s comic book that works in spades for an action-spy comedy. Unfortunately, that didn’t replicate that success with its 2017 sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle, where it just lost the magic of what made the original well-liked by many, creating one of the biggest disappointments that year offered. But taking the prequel approach in how the organization of the Kingsman wrapped around the setting of World War I seemed reasonably refreshing. Yet, it wasn’t as good as I wanted, at least.

What’s the Story: As a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions, one man must race against time to stop them.

The King's Man (2021) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

With everything going for it, Vaughn is up for a change in taking the liberty to set itself up as an origin story of how the secret intelligence organization came about that’ll later focus on what’s to come in the future and integrating it into what happened in history. This one takes itself seriously while keeping in the tradition of subverting expectations. And if you were like me and thought this entire movie was going to explore how everything came to be, then you’ll be slightly let down when it has the crazy moments one would think of mixed with its period setting.

Ralph Fiennes leading the charge in an action movie had my curiosity since that probably hasn’t happened before, and there was no surprise he was great in his performance as Orlando, Duke of Oxford. He played a gentleman pacifist who puts on the charm to have him go against his non-violent ways to save his country, which made for the most interesting character to follow throughout. I also quite enjoyed Harris Dickinson as Orlando’s son, Conrad, this intelligent young man who wants to fight for his country without the burden of his father telling him no. Their relationship had the potential to be dull, but I’d say those moments together were about as close to what was seen before between Eggsy and Hart Hart. This also has the likes of Djimon Honsou, Gemma Arterton, and Tom Hollander in three roles (King George, Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicolas) to carry out the cast. And I even loved Rhys Ifans playing Rasputin, who I didn’t know it was him until a month ago. He looked like he was having a lot of fun with his role as the monk/ priest that I didn’t mind when he went for an over-the-top performance. The character wasn’t in it that much, but it’s enough to keep it going along. 

Vaughn’s ability to keep the action entertaining is the best part of the film that won’t be the letdown highlight. The action sequences always came into play with his excellent camera work whenever the energy wasn’t there. What fans have loved from the previous two installments are carried over here to feel like the proper handling of them in that kinetic and stylish way only Vaughn can do without being too old. There’s this scene involving a sword fight near the end that was insanely good, and it proves why I’ve always thought it’s a weapon that should be used more often in action movies. Was it the best I’ve seen out of the three? It wasn’t, but it was all very impressive in keeping in the style appropriate for this setting. And the score provided by Matthew Margeson and Dominic Lewis was another vital attribute I’ve always paid attention to with each film.

But why this doesn’t even come close to being a fantastic Kingsman movie, or why it isn’t terrific, is this has a real problem with what it wants to be. As I was watching, it was like I was watching two different films that had a difficult time meshing together to make a cohesively fun prequel. When you look at the script from Vaughn and co-writer Karl Gajdusek, it wants to be this seriously war-centric story matched with the drama, taking away from it being funny, while letting us know this is still set in the Kingsman universe. I never got a sense of what the overall tone will be played out as, especially during the first act. It would’ve been alright if it kept one intact, but it really struggled in holding interest on my part. No joke, I forgot I was watching something from this series at times, and it came across as boring at parts. While sitting through this, it made me wonder if loyal fans will respond to this.

The King’s Man is one of those prequels that didn’t meet those expectations. There’s no shortage of unique, kinetic action and a stellar performance from Ralph Fiennes, but it leaves little to captivate when it doesn’t have a settled tone. Maybe the third official movie with the return of Taron Egerton and Colin Firth to wrap up the arcs for their characters could be a total redemption, but the lack of enjoyment I had while sitting through this keeps this franchise at a standstill. There’s no need to rush out when it can be waited on to watch months later.

Grade: C+

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