The King’s Man
Following the successful Kingsman films released in 2014 and 2017, director Matthew Vaughn adds a new feature to the franchise, although The King’s Man is different in many ways. The latest release is a prequel to the story of the Kingsman agency, and it reveals how the intelligence organisation first came to be. A brand new cast, led by Ralph Fiennes, takes the action all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century.
The protagonist, Duke Orlando Oxford (Fiennes), is a friend of King George V (Tom Hollander), who invariably ends up involved in political affairs in spite of his efforts to keep a promise made to his departed wife to stay out of anything that may endanger the life of their son, Conrad (Harris Dickinson). The pledge proves to be difficult to uphold, as tyrants and dangerous groups plotting violent attacks enter the picture. The onset of WWI further complicates affairs, but Oxford senior can count on his employees, Polly (Gemma Arterton) and Shola (Djimon Hounsou), to assist him in uncovering secret plans and fighting tirelessly to prevent large-scale disasters.
After a dramatic opening, The King’s Man sets a satirical tone, with a number of tongue-in-cheek moments peppered throughout that sometimes border on the farcical. The plot, however, progressively takes a very dark turn and assumes a much more realistic quality, differing from the style of the previous instalments. In the final section, the action takes centre-stage with Bond-like sequences and well choreographed fights.
The excellent cast and attractive settings keep the audience interested, but not fully convinced. The chief setback is perhaps the film’s inability to commit to a style, and the fact that the story strives to be epic but keeps the characters’ stories on the surface, which makes it hard to invest in their fate. While the action can be entertaining and the aesthetics are appealing, The King’s Man doesn’t quite fulfil the extraordinary potential that such a group of actors, and the substantial budget, could have achieved.
The King’s Man is released nationwide on 26th December 2021.
Watch the trailer for The King’s Man here: