“The King’s Man” is the third installment of the “Kingsman” film franchise, which is based on a comic book called “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. That fact is actually quite evident while watching.
This film is the prequel to the series. The other two films were “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” While this is the origin story, it’s also an oddly contorted journey through history, real or imagined. Here, we learn how a British shop becomes and secret service agency and how they’re involved with World War I. The members of the secret service group become so important they end up helping the country survive the brutal times. At the moment, their main goal is the protect Archduke Ferdinand, but they can’t. Ever hear a phrase similar to, ‘You need to stop fighting because your behavior is about to start a war?!’ Well, this is that time. Cousins King George, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Tsar Nicholas, all played by one Tom Hollander, just may have started that war with the death of Ferdinand. You’ll see what I mean.
We start our adventure with former soldier now pacifist Orlando Oxford, the Duke of Oxford, played by Ralph Fiennes, as he helps his son Conrad (Dickinson) with the fitting and purchase of his first suit. He knows the times they’re in, but he wants to keep Conrad with him, all nice and safe and out of the war, as he had promised Conrad’s mother so many years ago. As the likelihood of war breaking out heats up, Oxford is having a difficult time keeping that promise. Conrad wants to fight and if Oxford wants to save his country, he’ll have to as well. It isn’t long before he gets the secret group together and they’re in the fight of their lives.
Oxford is soon jumping from an airplane. He barely makes it to safety before getting into danger once again where he even dangles for his life on the edge of a cliff. Thrown about here and there during his scenes is where you’ll find the humor you expected from the film, but don’t look for too much comedy as there’s very little. Djimon Hounsou, Oxford’s bodyguard Shola, is powerful and robust. Hounsou comes away with memorable action sequences of his own. Polly, another of Oxford’s wingmen, played by Gemma Arterton, is fabulous, but the true gem in this film is Rhys Ifans as the evil Grigori Rasputin. He steals every scene he’s in, whether he’s showing off his skill as a swordsman or hitting on the son of Orlando Oxford, something he takes great pleasure in doing. He enjoys watching Conrad’s discomfort. Rasputin’s fight scenes are beautifully choreographed and quite comical.
Several people attempt to kill Rasputin, but he seems to lack the ability to die. Oxford gives it a try, but nothing doing. To prove his strength, Rasputin ends up healing the leg Oxford wounded in battle before he then starts to drown him in a pool. It’s during the scenes with Rasputin where most of the cursing is used. It also seems to be where the main reason for the R rating stems. Instead of cussing throughout his scenes, I think that with such a great character, they could have been more creative with their dialogue. I found that a bit disappointing.
The idea of blackmailing America’s president to get them into the war is brought up. I won’t bother with the logistics of all of that, but near the end, America joins the fight, obviously something the allies are desperate for all this time.
It’s sad to say, but not everyone survives. Try as they did, not everything went as planned, but it worked out in the end, and we got there via an enjoyable route. A trail that should lead you to see this film.
I would have given “The King’s Man” a higher score had their villain not been a Michael Myers Doctor Evil type character, yawn, but overall, not taking it too seriously, it’s not bad for a weekend watch. The drama and violence more than make up for the lack of personality you may have been expecting.
The King’s Man
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Matthew Vaughn, Karl Gajdusek
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Harris Dickinson, Daniel Brühl, with Djimon Hounsou, and Charles Dance
Runtime: 2h 11m
Rated: R (Some Sexual Material|Language|Strong/Bloody Violence)
Genres: Comedy, Adventure, Action
Based on the Comic Book “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons
Produced by: Matthew Vaughn, David Reid, Adam Bohling
Distributor: 20th Century Studios