It is safe to say that the original two Kingsmen movies worked beautifully due to the over-the-top, quirky, and just flat out ridiculousness of the characters along with some breathtaking fight sequences. The storylines might have been, for a lack of better terms, weak, but you didn’t really need a super compelling storyline due to the aforementioned reasons. However, what the first two movies did so well to garner a cult following is sorely missed in the sequel The King’s Man.
Set in the 1920s and following the major events of World War I, The King’s Man follows Ralph Fiennes’ Orlando Oxford as director Matthew Vaughn attempts to build up the origins of the Kingsmen Spy Agency. This movie has quite the cast with Ralph Fiennes taking the lead with support from Djimon Hounsou, Gemma Arteron and Rhys Ifans respectively. But, even with such powerful actors at the helm, this movie never really gets going.
Like the other two movies in the franchise, The King’s Man showcases some great cinematography and fight sequences, however, the actual fight scenes are few and far between, with only three scenes in the entire film. Compound this with choppy dialogue and confusing plot points and this movie just seemed to drag on and on forever. I could have really used some added humor and cheekiness as it would have been a welcome addition.
Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine and Sofia Boutella’s Gazelle from the first film and Julianne Moore’s Poppy and Pedro Pascal’s Whiskey from the second are villains worth remembering. All four actors played their parts wonderfully and in turn created some of the most unique and crazy villains to ever grace the silver screen. I truly feel that the first two movies were as successful as they were partly due to the commitment and portrayal of their films’ antagonists- which makes The King’s Man’s lack of a compelling villain even more glaring. Rhys Ifans as Rasputin was the best part of this film by far and he was killed off within the first hour. Ifans was creepy and outright disgusting (at times becoming almost uncomfortable to watch…) and I loved it! His ballet inspired fight scene with Oxford is the one redeeming quality to the film.
While Ifans’ Rasputin was at least relatively interesting, I cannot say the same about the main villain, the Sheppard. I never bought The Sheppard as a threat. All he did was kill a goat, cut the horns off another goat, and shot one person he was fencing with before the final reveal, which itself was a complete disappointment. Let’s just put it this way- the character who was revealed to be the Sheppard was such a forgettable character that I would have almost rather it be somebody else entirely. The payoff was nowhere near worth the wait.
While I respect the attempt of using World War I to create a background for The Kingsmen Spy Agency, the result fell flat. Language doesn’t normally bother me when I watch films since I’m usually the first one in line to watch the next raunchy comedy that comes into theaters, but when the movie is set in the 1920s and the one of the first things the main villain says is “fuckstick” it rubbed me the wrong way. Between that and some ridiculously stupid characters, I never felt immersed in the time period like I should have. In fact, it almost felt that The King’s Man was trying too hard to use World War I as its way of driving the plot forward than an actual plot. The attempt to use historical figures and events was there, but it just didn’t work.
Overall, The King’s Man was extremely disappointing. It lacked pretty much everything that made the first two so successful. The lack of comedy, interesting characters, plot, memorable fight scenes, and over-the-top villains significantly impacted the overall feel of the movie. The film was full of plot holes that, if explored, could have easily made this film more interesting. There was even a mid-credit scene setting up another prequel movie. To be honest, with as bad as this film is, I would be shocked if a fourth Kingsmen movie sees the light of day. This should be the final nail in the coffin as far as Kingsmen movies are concerned. I would recommend you not see this movie. Save yourself $10 and a few hours of your time. Go see The Matrix or Spider-Man (for the third time) instead.
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