The King's Man Is Saved By A Great Ralph Fiennes Performance {Review}

The King's Man is an interesting entry into The Kingsman franchise. The first film was a huge hit and surprisingly good. The second, not so much. Still made some decent money, but the film does not court the same devotion as the first. So it was interesting when director Matthew Vaughn decided to set the next film in the franchise in the past, showing the beginnings of The Kingsman. This film was also delayed quite a bit by the pandemic, and faces an uphill battle for box office, opening up against Spider-Man: No Way Home, Sing 2, and The Matrix Resurrections. Ouch.

The King's Man Review:
Djimon Hounsou as Shola and Ralph Fiennes as Oxford in 20th Century Studios' THE KING'S MAN. Photo credit: Peter Mountain. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

The King's Man May Be The Last Kingsman Film

That is not to say that The King's Man is a bad film. Starring Ralph Fiennes as a man named Oxford, who has to navigate a vow of nonviolence he takes after his wife is killed with The Great War World War 1 taking place around him. His son (Harris Dickinson) does not share his father's views and wants to fight for his country. All around this, Rasputin (Rhys Ifans, doing his best Alan Moore impression), Erik Jan Hanussen (Daniel Brühl), and more plot to destroy Great Britain, using World War 1 to do so. Eventually, Oxford, his son, and his houseworkers Shola (Djimon Houssou) and Polly (Gemma Arterton) uncover the plot and do what they must to stop it.

The first half of this film is so very slow. It takes forever for the story to unfold, with plenty of Kingsmen hyper-fast action and grossness to go around. Once Vaughn lets Fiennes off the leash so to speak, the second half of The King's Man flourishes. The mystery big baddie pulling the strings is not hard to figure out, though once revealed he and Oxford have a pretty spirited row. Fiennes is so, so good here. The script is a total mess, but the way he handles the material with all the right panache is a sight to see. Ditto to everyone really,  including Houssou and Arterton, though the latter is not asked to do all that much.

The King's Man Is Saved By A Great Ralph Fiennes Performance {Review}
// 20th Century Fox

Even the action scenes throughout the film are spectacular. There is one in particular on the battlefield in close combat that may be one of the best of the year. Very curious to see the behind-the-scenes of that one. The standout for most will be the fight with Rasputin, of its over-the-top silliness and swordplay. As the credits roll, however, you realize that out of two hours, everything you remember is from the second half. They do a really bad, confusing job setting everything up, and The King's Man thinks it has quite a bit to say about non-violence, colonialism, and the horrors of war that just do not work, especially when juxtaposed with the super-heroics of Oxford in the second half.

All in all, The King's Man is fine. Way, way better than The Golden Circle, though that is not a high bar to clear either. Come for the Fiennes, stay for the second-hour action.

The King's Man

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Review by Jeremy Konrad

Very uneven, but entertaining, The King's Man features a wonderful second half and a standout performance by Ralph Fiennes.

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About Jeremy Konrad

Jeremy Konrad has written about collectibles and film for almost ten years. He has a deep and vast knowledge of both. He resides in Ohio with his family.
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