The Kingsmen franchise finally got a look into the origins of the “government-less spy agency” as director Matthew Vaughn returned to helm the project that is focused on World War 1 and the drama surrounding it’s start and the effects of it afterward.
The film stars Ralph Fiennes as the Duke of Oxford, with Harris Dickinson playing his son Conrad Oxford. Then we have the likes of Djimon Hounsou and Gemma Arterton as other founding members of the Kingsmen, and Rhys Ifans as the notorious Rasputin.
First of all, this is a good movie. It is well put together and has some great scenes with well-choreographed action. Second of all, it is actually accurate in the portrayals of events leading up to WW1 and after, like Archduke Ferdinand’s assassination attempts and the realistic depiction of trench warfare. Of course, this is not considering the fictional meddling of The Kingsmen, but it is a noble attempt to add realism to the fantastical world of lore.
This is exactly where the film begins to fall apart, however. Rasputin’s villainous presence is felt beyond every one of his scenes, as he carries the first half of the film and it really feels like a Kingsmen movie with how over-the-top he is, and it becomes even better when considering how realistic the depiction is. Unfortunately, the looming threat of his boss (a secretive Scottish man who somehow blames England for all of Scotland’s issues) continues to plague the film as he comes across as incredibly insensitive after seeing such a serious take on the war.
Without spoiling anything, the film goes anywhere from goofy to tragic in the midst of the 2nd act going into the 3rd. It comes across as a bit muddled and not as smoothly paced as some of the two other films in the series. It also lacks a lot of the glitz and glamour of the others, which is a bit expected due to the timeframe of the film, but it just lacks a lot of the energy that is expected from the franchise.
In a nutshell, The King’s Man is a great film, but it is by far the worst of the otherwise stellar series, and while the stinger scene sets up a sequel, it is difficult to not pine for the days of Eggsy and Harry to come back. It does not mean that there is not a lot to appreciate about this film, as it is almost too careful to respect history outside of the villain’s questionable motivations.
Overall Grade: 8/10
Final Thoughts: I love Kingsmen, it feels like the actual new version of James Bond, being much cooler and carefree in these times instead of taking itself too seriously and sh****** the bed with constant dramatic attempts at Oscar nominations. The heightened reality reminds me of professional wrestling, and the ultra-stylistic presentations are just awesome. Ralph Fiennes is good, but a bit underutilized in the fight scenes, and of course Rhys Ifan’s portrayal of Rasputin is by far the best aspect of the entire film. That, and the trench warfare scene is awesome.