Well here’s the positive for this week’s review. This isn’t a sequel. However, it is a PREQUEL….. The King’s Man is the prequel to 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service and 2017’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Essentially these are spy films about a group of secret agents that help the typical agencies (CIA, MI6, etc.) The first two films were good with the 2017 sequel falling a little flat.
I may have held the original film with more clout because there is a pug named after Jack Bauer (Yes the show 24’s Jack Bauer!) I didn’t have particularly high hopes for this film as I still had a bad state from The Matrix Resurrections but it was an impromptu choice. Would this film live up to the previous entries or would it be a cash grab?
Onto the film.
We open in 1902 and meet our protagonist named Orlando Oxford (Fiennes) he’s also a duke. He and his family are visiting a concentration camp in South Africa. This is during the Boer Wars (a war I just learned about recently at OSU.) I immediately commented that the CGI looked “off.” Oxford (Fiennes) meets an old friend and an ambush takes place. I knew where this was headed….his wife is murdered….in front of their son. Que the driving factor for this film and the creepy GIANT picture of his wife in their mansion.
We then move to 12 years later. Oxford’s son Conrad (Dickinson) is 17 or 18 and he is flying with his father. He longs to join the military and fight for his country. Orlando (Fiennes) has turned into a bit of a recluse after his wife’s death. He protects his son to an extent that
causes friction between the both. We meet his staff Polly (Artertson) and Shola (Hounsou) who help attend to the estate. Both of these characters are some of the few bright spots in this film. So what is this movie really about? How are the “Kingsmen” created?
We have a conflict that is brewing in the underbelly of the Great War. A group of individuals (most of which are modeled after real people) are planning to cause great battles and defeat to take over the world. The supporting cast of evil henchmen are not the usual cookie-cutter types. Specifically, Grigori Rasputin (Ifans) is a site to see.
The actor Ifans does a fantastic job making this character (mind you a real person in history) shocking, weird, and those dance moves…wow. Both Orlando and Conrad head to meet Archduke Franz Ferdinand through Sarajevo and this is where the creative licensure is used. The Archduke and his wife were assassinated and by a man named Gavrilo Princip in real life, however, this film uses this true event to drive our protagonist into duty.
I won’t delve more into the plot. I am sure you can see where this is heading. Orlando (Fiennes) attempts to protect his son from joining the Great War while reluctantly trying to save the World. It was slightly interesting when I went back to read about the film and learned that the “bad guys” were real people and most of the events depicted actually happened, just not to that extent. For instance, a character is killed in a ship by a submarine missile and it is reported they hit a mine. This was how things were actually reported. However, in the film, we see it was the “Big bad.”
I wish using real life to paint a picture for entertainment and the origins of an intelligent group would have been interesting, or clever. It fell flat. The humor was forced and the dialogue was worse. We have a great cast here across the board but it felt like every other sentence caused a groan of annoyance. No one says these things in real life. Come on. Towards the third act the film just gets silly. There is a goat….yes a goat…hanging between to walls of a mountain and manages to climb back up to safety. The “big bad” reveals himself and with a dramatic pause takes off his toupee. This may seem funny if this was a corny film for kids, but it definitely wasn’t. I’m not one to frown with vulgarity but even this film was a little much.
I will say the transitions between scenes and how the cinematography was utilized did have its moments I was slightly impressed. However, those moments were few and far between and then when you have CGI that looks laughable it becomes amiss. I hate to say this, but even with a great cast (besides whoever played President Woodrow Wilson), this film is not good at all. If you want to be confused and laugh in slight shock and bewilderment by all means, but I would suggest seeing Spiderman again. Great cast with poor dialogue will never win. 1 ½ stars out of 5