‘The King’s Man’ Might Kill the Franchise – Spoiler Free Review
The King’s Man takes the franchise to a new era filled with legendary baddies, and it fails. It fails hard.
The timeline winds backward to WWI era Europe; some of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds are gathering to plot a war to end all wars and wipe out millions. Someone has to stop them. Learn the origins of the first independent intelligence agency – the Kingsman – in The King’s Man.
A new era brings in a new cast led by Ralph Fiennes with Matthew Goode, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Tom Hollander, Djimon Hounsou, Harris Dickinson, Stanley Tucci, Daniel Brühl, and Charles Dance.
What the Heck did I Just Watch?
I want to know where the movie in the trailers went. The prequel had the potential to live up to those and the first two movies, but instead of a satirical comedy, we got a dull WWI drama with misplaced moments of gross humor. It’s slow and the pacing is bad. The King’s Man really doesn’t know what it wants to be, and it just flat out fails in all of thing things it tries.
Making this quasi-historical was a wrong choice. Part of why the first two movies work is because they’re pure satire of genres. The events, people, and organizations are fictional. It makes the outlandishness of it work. Trying to weave in actual history into that style of satire breaks it, and it’s pretty insulting at times.
Wasted Chances in The King’s Man
Characters are not fleshed out. Polly (Gemma Arterton) and Shola (Djimon Hounsou) are just side pieces though they’re presented as founding members of the organization.
King George V of Great Britain, Tsar Nicholas II, and Kaiser Wilhelm II are all played by Tom Hollander with a costume and mustache swap, which had the potential of being funny, but nothing was done with it. Instead, the actor plays all three reasonably straight, and if you’re not paying attention, you may not notice the casting stunt.
Rhys Ifans’ Rasputin has one of the best fight scenes, which is in the trailers. It’s a combination of Russian traditional dance and repeated kicks to the face that’s fun to watch. He stuck out of the trailers as a reason to see the movie. That rings true for the five minutes of fighting. That’s it, though.
On the downside, he is the star of the most misplaced and disgusting humor scene in the whole movie. The scene is over-sexualized in a way that is very on par for Millar and Vaughn, but it’s jarring because it doesn’t fit in the rest of the movie at all. It’s as if it was cut/pasted in to make up for the lack of all of the comedy elsewhere. It just comes off as gross. The audience in my showing was visibly uncomfortable.
There are sections of the movie that clearly wanted to play up 1917. They end up being sad tributes to the Oscar-winning film rather than the satire the movie aims for. It also has a ‘can we be Downton Abbey?’ feel to it at times. There’s a sort of touching story of a father and son in times of war story in The King’s Man that would have been fine in another movie. Just not this one.
Is there Anything Good in this Mess?
There are some fun action sequences, but they are few and far between. The cast tries. The costumes are great, and the production is top-notch.
Yep, that’s it.
Should I See The King’s Man in a Theater?
No. Not even the post-credit scene is worth it.
Gather some friends and some adult beverages and watch it at home (on a streaming service you pay for already) where you can yell at it. You’ll also be guilt-free when you decide to watch another movie halfway through.
The King’s Man hits theaters on December 22nd.