Manners maketh man for the third time in The King’s Man, the newest installment in the Kingsman spy action franchise that began with two very entertaining films, Kingsman: The Secret Service and Kingsman: The Golden Circle. However, this is not a sequel to the movies starring Taron Egerton, but rather a prequel taking us back to World War I following Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes), a man who must race against time to prevent a war that could wipe out millions of people.
It’s a miracle that we’re getting to see this film at all after it received nine proposed release dates. While the pandemic didn’t help, the film was already being pushed back before every other movie was. Luckily, we’re getting to see The King’s Man over two years after its original November 2019 release date, and unfortunately, the film wasn’t entirely worth the wait. Although there are moments to love in this spy/war mashup, the movie ultimately loses its footing and fails to deliver what audiences want from a Kingsman film.
Matthew Vaughn returns to co-write and direct this film, having previously helmed the first two Kingsman films and X-Men: First Class, all movies I enjoy. But somehow, he fumbled the ball with a film that felt as if he wanted to make a war movie but was confined to setting it in the Kingsman universe despite the story not warranting any connections to that series. Furthermore, the first two films occur in such a heightened reality that the decision to ground this movie in actual events and real people was a strange choice. note: American Girl Movie
In many ways, this movie doesn’t feel like it meshes with the Kingsman universe. The first two films are intended to be a more lighthearted take on the action spy genre, mixing excellent action with a sense of humor. Unfortunately, this movie does away with the over-the-top nature and the fun tone of this series and replaces it with conventional war drama. The opening scene fridges our protagonist’s wife, and we go through a war film with characters that don’t stand out the way Kingsman characters should. note: Devil Buster Future World Movie
This film is bogged down by its excessive narrative fueled by some of the most forgettable dialogue scenes of the year. As a result, the film’s pacing is disjointed, and the movie can be pretty dull at times. However, whenever Vaughn gives us the classic Kingsman action, whether it’s a fight with Rasputin, a thrilling war sequence, or the vastly entertaining final act of the film, the movie becomes instantly better. It’s a shame that the movie couldn’t keep up the momentum throughout its runtime.
While Fiennes and the rest of the cast give stellar performances and the film is fun when it kicks into high gear, The King’s Man is running on fumes. It’s a movie with a few interesting ideas and action sequences but ultimately gets lost in its overly serious nature. Had the film loosened up a bit more or separated itself from the Kingsman franchise, the film may have had a better chance of succeeding. But ultimately, the movie doesn’t entirely succeed at what it’s going for.
The King’s Man’s bomb at the box office is a problem for a sequel despite the movie’s perfect mid-credits tease of Adolf Hitler. The scene may try to entice audiences with the promise of a new cinematic take on Hitler, the leader of Germany’s Third Reich and the man responsible for the murder of six million Jews, but a disappointing Christmas weekend box-office suggests audiences have little appetite. Unfortunately, this could waste an extremely exciting Kingsman sequel setup.
As a prequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service, which charmed audiences in 2015 as a classy send-up of the spy-movie genre, The King’s Man explores the origins of the parodical agency. The main character is a grieving pacifist-turned-trained killer played by Ralph Fiennes. Though Duke Orland of Oxford successfully defeats terrorist mastermind Shepherd, ruining his plans to create an Avengers of real-life dictators including Lenin and Rasputin, the damage is great. World War One, which was engineered by Shepherd, claims the life of Oxford’s son, Conrad. Oxford forms The Kingsman in Conrad’s memory. The mid-credit scene perfectly teases a follow-up film by introducing the communist revolutionary Lenin to the future fascist leader Hitler, implying a sequel team-up that will test the Kingsman like never before.