‘THE King’s Man’ was released in some local theaters but didn’t stay very long as only a few people watched it. It’s meant to be a prequel showing the origin story of the secret agency that figured in the first two successful “Kingsman” movies with Colin Firth.
But honestly, who cares about how it started? And this time, it is set during the First World War and opens with Ralph Fiennes as Lord Oxford losing his wife to enemies in South Africa in 1902. His wife makes him promise to protect their son, Conrad, and to never allow him be a soldier.
Twelve years later, Conrad as a young man (Harris Dickinson) wants to fight in World War I but his dad repeatedly forbids him to join the army. Lord Oxford has by then put up his own secret spy agency to help protect their country. Working for him are his own servants Shola (Djimon Honshou) and Polly (Gemma Arterton.)
Honestly, the movie is boring and it only comes to life when Rasputin, the powerful mystic adviser of the Russian czar and his wife, enters the picture. As played by Rhys Ifans (the scene-stealing friend of Hugh Grant in “Notting Hill”), Rasputin makes the movie come to life in an overextended but excitingly choreographed fight scene to the tune of “Sabre Dance” during a Christmas party.
Rasputin as the Mad Monk is portrayed here with liberal touches of comedy. When he enters the party, he doesn’t walk, but glides. He speaks with over the top Russian accented English, devours dessert greedily, and he is portrayed as a bisexual who goes for both women and young men. His characterization really pops off the screen and it takes all of Lord Oxford, Conrad, Shola and Polly to kill him.
Of course, this is all silly but the whole sequence is quite hilarious. Alas, you cannot say the same for the whole movie and the story of the founding of Kingsman is not at all that particularly engaging. A nice touch, though, is having Tom Hollander play all the roles of King George of England, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Czar Nicholas of Russia, since they are all cousins.
This is quite a comment on the political system in Europe during that era which surely helped in causing the war. Ralph Fiennes is quite an astute actor but even he cannot save the movie. All the more so in the case of Harris Dickinson as his son. We thought he’d be the lead actor but he gets killed in the war and it turns that Ralph Fiennes is really the lead.
Dickinson looks good but is bland, lacking in charisma and virile appeal so important on the big screen. Only Rhys Ifans really succeeded in getting out of the whole thing quite unscatched with his silly but sinister portrayal of Rasputin.
The film didn’t do as enormously successful as its predecessors but we heard the franchise director, Matthew Vaughn, is determined to come up with another sequel. The mid-end credits preview of “The King’s Man” shows the character of a young Adolf Hitler popping up, so we guess the next sequel would be set in World War II. Why are we not at all excited?