February 20, 2022

THE KING'S MAN Takes a Step Back

THE KING’S MAN (Movie Review)
2021 / 131 min


Review by Tiger the Terrible😽

Add the film to your Kingsman collection on Digital February 18 and on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD February 22.

I’m generally not a fan of prequels or origin stories and would have preferred another direct sequel in the Kingsman franchise. The first two films are sort-of like James Bond without a filter: colorful, brutally violent and occasionally raunchy with an off-kilter sense of humor. I’m not sure how many were pining to see where it all began, but since Matthew Vaughn wrote and directed this one as well, surely the same elements which made the others so enjoyably cheeky would be here in abundance. So why not?

But there are long stretches where it seems like Vaughn forgot what makes the Kingsman series fun.

Set prior to World War I, The King’s Man often eschews the elements that endeared us to the other films. There’s visually impressive action, as usual, but for at least the first 40 minutes, the overall tone is surprisingly somber, focusing on Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes), a disillusioned spy and protective father who’s trying to dissuade teenage son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) from joining the military, especially since Germany has declared war on England. Meanwhile, a secret organization, headed by an unseen figure, is manipulating the kings of England, Germany and Russia with the help of loyal moles in those governments.

We all need a little more Rasputin in our lives.
Up to this point, there’s too much plot and too many characters, but aside from Orlando, none of them are particularly interesting. But things pick up considerably when mad monk Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) is unleashed to wreak havoc. Perverted, psychotic and extraordinarily lethal, he’s a terrific character and perhaps the most amusing antagonist in the entire franchise. The fight between him, the Oxfords and Orlando’s ‘butler’ Shola (Djimon Hounsou) is both thrilling and hilarious. Now this is more like it!

But just when one thinks the rest will be the type of Kingsman film we’re used to, everything once again turns serious with a middle act which spends way too much time with Conrad on the German front. Not only is the shift in tone unwelcome, it isn’t anything we haven’t seen in other historical war films. And despite clumsy efforts to integrate Conrad’s army stint into the main plot, it's ultimately inconsequential, exacerbated by the fact he’s not very compelling…just another naive kid who’s too patriotic for his own good. We’ve seen him in a lot of war films, too.

The film rebounds with a wild final act atop a mountain butte which pits Orlando & his assembled team against the mysterious mastermind (though his reveal ain’t much of a surprise) and a vengeful mountain goat. Thrilling, suspenseful and phenomenally choreographed, the climactic clash goes a long way in making the serious segments worth enduring. Had the entire film been this exhilarating, The King’s Man would have been a worthy franchise spin-off. Instead, it’s simply another well-made action film...watchable but lacking any real charm.

No comments: