The King’s Man is a prequel to the widely popular and financially successful film Kingsman: The Secret Service from 2014 starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, and Michael Caine. Both films are directed by Matthew Vaughn. The latest Kingsman film is the origin story of how this super secretive organization got started. It still has just as many action-packed scenes as the first film but with a little more exposition to go along with it.
The King’s Man follows the exploits of a Red Cross Man (Ralph Fiennes) and his family. After a tragedy happens, he keeps a close eye on his son (Harris Dickinson) who witnesses the tragedy. He wants to join the ever combustive war that is going on in Europe in the early 20th century. As the film progresses, the Red Cross Man finds himself drawn into the conflict in his own way. He enlists the help of a couple of servants as well: a master martial artist (Djimon Hounsou) and a feisty maid (Gemma Arterton).
This film has a slow start to it, bordering on snail-like. The pacifist nature of Fiennes’s character almost drags the film down until the distinctive style of Vaughn kicks in about 30 or 40 minutes into the film. A secret cabal is trying to force the leaders of Great Britain, Germany, and Russia into WWI with characters such as Gregori Rasputin (Rhys Ifans, unrecognizable) at the forefront of the plan. Vaughn’s style comes into full effect with an incredible fight scene between Fiennes, Ifans, Hounsou, and Dickinson set to Beethoven’s 5th symphony. This scene rivals the fight scene in the church from the first film in the trilogy.
After the slow start, the film picks up nicely with some incredible set pieces. One involving no man’s land, and another involving parachuting out of a biplane onto a high plateau, and a terrific fight scene follows. Along with those incredible set pieces also comes the look of the film. It is set in some amazing locations such as castles, famous buildings, and various other locations. The ballrooms and barns alike all fit into his vision which is breathtaking to look at, at times. It’s one of the most gorgeous films this year.
Borderline on too much exposition, the script was quite heavy in plot and dialogue. Monologues abound from every direction including all the main characters, similar once again to the first film in the trilogy. The second film got away from what made the first film work so well. The glitz and glamor and that famous catchphrase “Manners Maketh Man” ring throughout the film. That suave look is another aspect that makes the film work so well. Every character is dressed to the nines or dressed down for their character if necessary. The costume department worked overtime to get the look of the early 20th century clothes down perfectly.
Despite the film’s slow beginning, this more than lives up to the original film in the trilogy. The action set pieces are amazing and the fight scenes and choreography live up to a couple of scenes from the original film. The acting throughout, but most notably from Fiennes and Ifans is first-rate. The King’s Man is a nice addition to this franchise. It brings something new to a series that desperately needed it. The look and feel of the film sucked me in from the get-go. After watching this film, I can’t wait to see another one. These characters were engaging and enjoyable to watch for the two-hour runtime.
Dan Skip Allen
Founder/EIC disappointment media