Review of 'The King's Man'

the_kings_man.jpg At the end of the second Boer War in 1902 Orlando (Ralph Fiennes), Duke of Oxford, his wife Emily (Alexandra Maria Lara), and their young son Conrad (Alexander Shaw) visit a concentration camp where his wife is killed by a sniper but not before making him promise never to let his son go to war. Twelve years later Orlando has put together an intelligence network of household servants around the world attempting to prevent the United Kingdom from the approaching world war. Conrad (Harris Dickinson) is eager to fight but Orlando does everything in his power to prevent it. When Archduke Franz Ferdinand (Ron Cook) is assassinated Conrad learns of the existence of “The Flock” a group plotting to start the war. The group is led by the mysterious Shepherd who orders Russian cleric Grigori Rasputin (Rhys Ifans), trusted adviser to Tsar Nicholas of Russia (Tom Hollander), to convince the Tsar to keep Russia out of the war. Conrad learns of this and informs Lord Kitchener (Charles Dance) Secretary of State for War and his aide-de-camp Major Max Morton (Matthew Goode), who set sail for Russia only to be killed when a torpedo hits their ship. Orlando travel to Russia with trusted family servants Shola (Djimon Hounsou) and Polly (Gemma Arterton), as well as Conrad to kill Rasputin but will they be successful and will they be able to stop the war?

A film explaining the origins of the secretive “Kingsman” organization featured in previous films “The King's Man” is embedded deeply in the politics of the first world war though, predictably, they play fast and lose with history. This does tend to hold the film back a bit as the characters and plot dances around the main events leading the war that simply cannot be ignored such as the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. There are the spectacular action sequences that feature throughout the series including a rather long, drawn out battle with Rasputin and the predictable show-down with the Shepherd on a spectacular (though fake looking) isolated clifftop but there is a lot of plot to keep track of as the film moves along at a very quick pace though you can just ignore all of the exposition and take in the action as there is a lot of it. Oddly, some of the effects look a bit ropey and most the action is for the most part fairly low-key (for the Kingsman) with physical fight sequences being the order of the day.

It is great to see Ralph Fiennes on the screen again and in a role that perfectly suits the franchise though Harris Dickinson's Conrad comes off of as a bit of a petulant child whose fate ends up more as a motivation to Orlando than anything else. Charles Dance as Lord Kitchener further solidifies the solemn English-ness of the film. Further to this, Gemma Arterton and Djimon Hounsou play the roles of traditional English servants with the former channelling a Kingsman version of Mary Poppins.

A fun though plot-heavy addition to the “Kingsman” franchise.

Rating: “Really good but I have some issues”

Review Date: 2023-05-14

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

Studio: 20th Century Studios

Year: 2021

Length: 131 minutes

Genre: Action/Adventure

Other reviewed films by Matthew Vaughn: