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Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Matthew Goode, Gemma Arterton
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Running Time: 131 mins
The King’s Man is a British film about the founding of the Kingsman agency, the secret service which had its origins in the First World War, as political ambitions and personal rivalries plunged the globe into devastating conflict.
I absolutely loved the first two Kingsman movies. The first in particular was thrilling, hilarious, action-packed and such a refreshing addition to today’s blockbuster landscape.
However, the prequel to those two films, The King’s Man, doesn’t quite hit the same high notes. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable watch, with a lot of action and a fun-loving take on famous historical events. But the film lacks the same cheeky, comical brand of humour that made the past two movies so irresistibly charming.
Before we get into that, however, it’s fair to say that The King’s Man deserves some respect for doing something different. It would have been all too easy to trundle out another Eggsy adventure in the modern day, but this prequel does at times feel like a little bit of fresh air.
With an all-new cast starring as the founding members of Kingsman, this film is able to count on your affection for the past two films while also offering a story that doesn’t rely solely on taking the mick out of James Bond flicks.
Much like the previous films, the action in The King’s Man is spectacular, with Matthew Vaughn’s trademark visual style still delivering hugely entertaining fight sequences, along with some larger-scale action too.
There’s still nothing quite on the level of the legendary church scene from the original movie, but The King’s Man certainly has fun with pitting goodies against baddies in a wide range of settings.
And it’s the film’s setting which is arguably its most entertaining characteristic. Set in the First World War, The King’s Man details the main historical events of the war with an imaginative take on what happened behind the scenes.
From the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand to the death of Lord Kitchener, this movie takes a playful approach to capturing the historical context of the Great War, in a manner very reminiscent of the brilliant Inglourious Basterds
The King’s Man isn’t quite as off-the-chain as Tarantino’s send-up of World War Two, but this movie certainly isn’t afraid to have fun, and be just as silly as the classic action movies it’s often parodying.
Despite that, though, it seems that the main focus of The King’s Man is undoubtedly action, and not comedy. The first two films were also very action-heavy, but they definitely had a lot more laughs than this prequel.
And that’s ultimately what lets The King’s Man down the most. It’s a fun action movie, but with far fewer laughs, it doesn’t quite deliver the same crowd-pleasing entertainment of its predecessors.
Ralph Fiennes gives a committed leading performance, harking back to his charismatic turn in The Avengers
, while he’s also backed up by a thoroughly entertaining ensemble cast of goodies and baddies.
None of the characters are ever quite as captivating as the leads from past Kingsman movies, and a couple of the film’s side stories are frankly just a bit too silly even for its own good.
That means that, while this movie absolutely hits the mark when it comes to action, The King’s Man doesn’t have the gripping story or epic charisma that kick-started this franchise. However, it’s still a fun watch with an enjoyable take on history, and that’s why I’m giving The King’s Man a 7.4 overall.