The King’s Man is an ultimately boring experience and proves emphatically that this series doesn’t need a prequel. The movie flounders in making best use of its cast, and struggles to find a balance between the bombastic storytelling that is The Kingsman franchise and the real-world events of World War I.
Credit where credit’s due, there is one scene in this movie that comes as a complete shock, thanks in large part to the marketing’s misdirection. That said, this movie doesn’t become interesting until the last third and even then, if you’ve seen the trailer—which let’s be honest during the pandemic has been on repeat until it was finally in theaters last December—you’ve seen most of the action this movie has to offer.
Director Matthew Vaughn discussed his inspiration for the origins of this agency in the bonus features, which isn’t all that inspired. He talks about how “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” went over the top and he wanted to give fans a different look at the agency when it didn’t have as many resources at its disposal. There are some cool ideas such as the network of house servants that supply intel to the private organization, but this movie gets buried in the minutia of the spy game. Frankly, Ralph Fiennes was already in a better spy movie with a similar subject matter in No Time to Die.
One of the more enjoyable elements in The Kingsman franchise is the fun use of its stars. However, this movie opts to cast big names in minor roles with the hope of additional sequels set in this era to further flesh out said characters. Actors such as Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Tom Hollander and Stanley Tucci are barely in the movie but are a part of the final sequence, in which The Kingsmen agency is established.
Another actor cast in a role that teases a sequel is Daniel Bruhl as Erik Jan Hanussen. Bruhl is probably in this movie for about 15 minutes and is in the stinger where he introduces Vladimir Lenin (August Diehl) to Adolph Hitler (David Kross). These roles are not only forgettable but ultimately meaningless if Vaughn’s sequels don’t happen.
Despite a lot of the action being spoiled in the trailer, Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, and Djimon Hounsou anchor this movie with their performances. They add a level of class to an otherwise mindless action film. I’d like to see them reprise these characters on another adventure, but it’s disappointing that Hounsou’s Shola would be sidelined from the action since he ends up being promoted to the role of the agency’s quartermaster aka Merlin. Harris Dickinson is the weakest player in this movie as Conrad Oxford. He’s reduced to constantly fighting his father for permission to join the war to do his part. Unfortunately, he’s no Chris Evans (or Steve Rogers for that matter.)
It’s funny to think that Grigori Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) is given so much attention in the marketing of this movie because he’s kind of the only villain who does anything much less has personality. The Shephard (who I won’t reveal in case you want to see this movie) is about as mustache twirling a baddie as you can get. He leads the group of bad guys because he yells (a lot) and is the one that created a ridiculous code name system. It’s also strange that the villain of this movie is the originator of the franchise’s famous quote, “Manners maketh man.”
There are some ideas here that would make for a better and possibly shorter movie. However, the final product here is unimpressive and hollow.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: The bonus features include:
· The King’s Man: The Great Game Begins Documentary – an hour and a half of behind-the-scenes footage documenting the making of the movie.
· The making of the silent knife fight in no man’s land,
· Remembrance and Finding Purpose – an inspiring look at the work The Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes do for recovering, well-being and employment for military veterans.
· And the red band trailer.
The Big Comic Page was provided a screener of the movie. “The King’s Man” is available on Digital now and the 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD are available on February 22, 2022.
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511