Review – The King’s Man
Review – The King’s Man
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Written by: Matthew Vaughn & Karl Gajdusek
Produced by: Dave Gibbons & Mark Millar
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton & Djimon Hounsou
Release Date: December 26th 2021
I went to see The King’s Man for review purposes last night and it was a sloppy, disjointed mess of a film. I wasn’t expecting anything incredible from it, but it didn’t even meet the low expectations that I had going in. Those expectations being; even if the film is rubbish, at least the action will be entertaining enough.
When the first Kingsman movie released back in 2015, it ended up being somewhat of a sleeper hit. It wasn’t a perfect movie by any standards, but it was an unexpectedly fun time. A sequel called The Golden Circle was released a couple of years later, which was vastly inferior to the first film, but still had some cartoonish action scenes to enjoy.
My expectation for this film was for it not to exceed the first Kingsman in terms of enjoyment, but to at least be better than the sub-par sequel. Unfortunately, an argument could be made for The King’s Man to be the worst of the three. There were several reasons I came away feeling this way.
First off, this may be one of the most disjointed films that I have ever seen. The King’s Man is more disjointed than The French Dispatch and that was a series of vignettes! There was no flow or cohesion to this movie whatsoever, which frankly made it infuriating to watch.
The entire first act of the movie is based around the idea of Conrad Oxford arguing with his dad because he wouldn’t let him join the war. This went on for an excruciatingly long time and had me wondering several times when the movie was going to properly start.
Eventually, The Oxfords and a few of their house staff decide to go to Russia in order to kill Rasputin in a bid to end the war. At this point I thought; “Great, finally the movie is starting.” The first few times that Rhys Ifans appears onscreen as Rasputin, he is highly entertaining.
Ifans plays Rasputin with an energetic grossness that was honestly engaging for the first ten minutes after he came into the film. Sadly, this initially positive element of the film is dragged out to the point where any sense of novelty eventually wears off. By the time that he was licking Ralph Fiennes’ leg, I was thinking; “Okay, we get it. He is gross, can we move on yet?”
Contrarily, even though the character’s antics were pretty played out by the end of this sequence, it still felt like Rasputin was dealt with fairly abruptly. The way in which he was dispatched caused the character to feel like far less of a threat than what he was made out to be.
Then, almost out of nowhere, The King’s Man becomes a war film for the next half hour. The change of setting and tone felt extremely jarring to the viewer. We go from watching a flamboyant, over-the-top combat sequence one minute, to seeing a more serious, dark portrayal of brutality in WW1 the next. This decision felt very abrupt and ruined any flow that the movie had to it prior to this point.
As before, the war sequence drags on for far longer than it ever had to and (despite a fairly interesting knife fight in No Man’s Land,) feels largely pointless. Again, even though this sequence felt dragged out, the way that it ended felt abrupt and somewhat unfulfilling. This is one of several points in the movie where it felt like the filmmakers realised they had milked a plot element for too long and so they suddenly yanked the plug out and moved onto the next plot point.
Finally, the final act of the film takes place and it is extremely anti-climactic. A half-hearted effort at revealing a painfully obvious twist is attempted. Then the obligatory final fight of the film takes place. And then the movie just sort of finishes. We get a hollow endeavour to set up a sequel and the credits roll.
All of this without ever really delving properly into why The Kingsman agency was established, or how the logistics of the agency were set up. Unless all of that was given in the post credits scene. I wouldn’t know as I left the cinema hall as soon as the credits began rolling out of sheer frustration.
With all of that said, you would think that the only reason to stick with this convoluted mess of a film would be for the cheesy over-the-top action violence that The Kingsman series is known for. Well, guess what? None of that is present here either!
All that exists to keep you going between disjointed set pieces here, is some mediocre action sequences and a lazy script. In fact, The King’s Man serves as a perfect example of how a script filled with poorly written dialogue can lead to an utter waste of a phenomenal cast of actors.
Based on the film’s cast, its subject matter and that fact that it is based on a comic book series, I should have liked The King’s Man, but I did not. Try as I might, I cannot call up any redeeming qualities other than the two that I already mentioned above.
Is witnessing Rasputin’s somewhat interesting fighting style along with the fairly decent No Man’s Land knife fight enough to justify sitting through two excruciating hours of poor dialogue, abrupt tonal shifts and lazy reveals? The definitive answer is no, it is not.
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