The king’s man, 2021.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn.
With Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Harris Dickinson, Daniel BrÃ¼hl, Djimon Hounsou, Charles Dance, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Robert Aramayo, Ross Anderson, Alexandra Maria Lara, Neil Jackson, Alison Steadman, Branka KatiÄ, Alexander Shaw, Valerie Pachner, Joel Basman, Ron Cook, Barbara Drennan, Ian Kelly, Kristian Wanzl Nekrasov and Stanley Tucci.
At the turn of the 20th century, the Kingsman Agency was formed to oppose a cabal that was preparing a war to annihilate millions of people.
Going back in time to World War I, returning director Matthew Vaughn (adapting the comics by Mark Miller and Dave Gibbons, this time with Karl Gajdusek taking care of the script tasks) certainly takes the lead. Kingsman series in a different direction, but more shocking is the serious tone of the first half of this prequel known as The king’s man supports. The story centers on a veteran turned Red Cross supporter Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes, effectively playing a role similar to Colin Firth in the current timeline) resisting leaving his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson, mostly dry and forgettable although not necessarily his fault) honorably join the war. Not only does the Duke of Oxford have firsthand experience of these horrors, he and a much younger Conrad were all traumatized upon seeing Matriarch Emily (Alexandra Maria Lara) shot dead. As a result, he is deeply terrified of losing his son to senseless violence, protecting the 18-year-old on the verge of 19 as much as possible.
While The king’s man also involves creating the spy organization full of gentlemen (including a cameo appearance from the tailor shop), it’s more about telling a rather bland story about war and nobility, or rather, reputation and the character. Orlando still operates in the shadows unbeknownst to Conrad, who is mocked and labeled a coward for not enlisting. Conrad is desperate to serve and earn medals like his father, while Orlando believes there is a quiet way to make the world better, hence the conversation about perception and actions.
None of this is probably what someone comes to a Kingsman film for, as the script frequently treats these opposing views with awkward dramatic drowning. Previous entries have always had personal dilemmas, but here they stifle any fun there is for the majority of the runtime. Nor is it helped by an overwhelming and disorienting exposure setting up an exaggerated revisionist story regarding the preparation for WWI. Such foolishness involves Tom Hollander performing a triple duty as cousins ââto King George, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Tsar Nicholas (representing England, Germany, and Russia, respectively). At least one of them is a world-leading clown who hasn’t grown up yet, seeking to seize more power.
Orlando also set up an underground network (which is just a hidden basement attached to a secret door in his office) where various estate staff such as nanny Polly (Gemma Arterton, an under-talented estimated unfortunately not given much to do), Shola (Djimon Hounsou), and others able to easily obtain information or plant characters in places whenever it benefits the plot. A network of these scholarly intellectuals hunting down and trading secrets might make its own thrilling slice of action espionage, but here it is reduced to yet another plot element worth mentioning.
The same goes for the group of misfit villains operating in the Scottish Highlands, each supposed to have a distinct character, but most of the time they’re just forgotten and barely thought about, like everyone else here. The seemingly supernatural Russian monk Rasputin (a bearded and eccentric Rhys Ifans) is the exception, with one of the The king’s manstretches more entertaining following an attempt to seduce through candy and something else that will not be revealed here. Arguably this leads to some thrilling one-on-one fights involving dance-like fight choreography, reminiscent of some of the craziest fighting stances from the first film. The problem is, much like killing the only valid antagonist in a video game, The king’s man immediately falls back into the same problems following this burst of energy, leaving little enthusiasm to continue.
A shocking scene in the second half changes the narrative to some extent, mostly allowing Matthew Vaughn to find a rhythm for this rambling WWI mockery. The villains are still largely forgettable (the script resorts to a lame and predictable twist, an amount of F-bombs and excessive animal abuse to make viewers dislike this forgettable group), but as the sons of the plot start to come together, there is more freedom to launch characters into impressively staged action sequences.
With any exposure out of the way (I didn’t even find time to mention the likes of Charles Dance, Matthew Goode, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, and Daniel Bruhl, but I’ll say don’t expect much) and a more concerted focus on saving the day (which involves convincing America to join the war, which is prevented for fun reasons), The king’s man finally begins to adopt the tone of its predecessors. Unfortunately, it is also too late and the payoff is unsatisfactory. Rather, it’s an overly dramatic WWI movie starring a father and son who make themselves feel like it was only made because someone forced Matthew Vaughn to do it. link to Kingsman series. Either way, it sometimes comes alive with excitement, otherwise functioning as a frustrating and sometimes needlessly cruel mess.
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Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the editor of Flickering Myth Reviews. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter Where Mailbox, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com