Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Harris Dickinson, Daniel Brühl, Djimon Hounsou, Charles Dance
Runtime: 2 hrs 11 mins
Rating: NC16 (Violence)
Released By: Walt Disney Company
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/KingsmanMovie/
Opening Day: 30 December 2021
Synopsis: As a collection of history's worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions, one man must race against time to stop them. Discover the origins of the very first independent intelligence agency in "The King's Man."
Most of us who have watched the first two films to the “Kingsman” franchise would be excited to watch the sequel to “The Secret Service” and “The Golden Circle”. But prior to that, we now have a prequel.
A prequel? You must be thinking… is a prequel necessary? How far back will it go? Is Matthew Vaughn following the likes of George Lucas?
The prequel brings us back to the start of the 20th century, when Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) forms the Kingsmen Agency with his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) and their household servants Shola (Djimon Hounsou) and Polly (Gemma Arterton) to fight against tyrants and criminal masterminds planning to plot a war that could potentially affect millions, only to be stuck in a whirlwinds of twists and surprises along the way.
“The King’s Man” is possibly a much awaited film, having been delayed vastly due to scheduling conflicts and the global COVID-19 pandemic, so being able to finally watch it on the big screen was exciting. And with its preceding films achieving much acclaim, it was definitely something to look forward to.
Well, at least the film started off that way.
What was an intriguing start to a film became an oddly historical soap drama, in which the protagonist seemed to be ‘intruding’ into the drama somehow and was not exactly fully immersed in the storyline.
It was great, however, that the storyline had some sort of reference to world history (most notably pre-World War I), which made it rather realistic to a certain extent. Sadly, non- history fans or viewers who do not have any prior knowledge of European and American history of the early 1900s might feel bored and confused.
And although there were still some segments that did excite with some visual humour and stirring action, the pace of the first two-thirds of the film felt generally erratic and did slow down considerably for a good while before actually picking up and returning to a comfortable (but slightly rushed) momentum after a rather pivotal part of the film. This made the film unintentionally draggy without much effort.
Still, the film still had the basic elements that made the franchise so popular and lovable, despite the shaky parts. The presence of a classic mix of balanced humour of varying levels, blended with quite remarkable action and slight suspense, although possibly not as tightly condensed as the previous films, carries the plot through the film.
The stellar cast that included Ryan Fiennes, Djimon Hounsou, Gemma Arterton and Rhys Ifans were amazing and made their characters engaging and intriguing, adding colour and vibrance to the film.
The cinematography is beautifully done and captures the essence and charm of the early 19th century. The costume designs and sets were well-crafted and appropriate for the era and even the most cynical of viewers would be delighted with the immaculate array presented in the film.
In comparison to the first two films of the franchise itself, one might feel that the prequel may seem slightly out of place and inconsistent. However, given that a fresh plot was written around actual world history, and with the consideration of the 1st 2 films, it feels that the prequel might be essential to possibly a bigger plan to ‘gel’ and blend the transition smoothly. Whether or not this is the reality, we would just have to wait.
All in all, it can be concluded that having the prequel to the “Kingsman” franchise may seemingly be a very ambitious and clueless project that seem slightly too careful in its execution. However, one would still be able to enjoy this offering easily without feeling too drained. And possibly, this film that gradually leads on might be needed to cool down the previous films that were high-paced.
Indeed, a wise man once said, “Manners maketh a man.” And probably, patience is the key to fully appreciating and enjoying “The King’s Man”.
(A nice addition to the series that is worth the watch… if you do not mind dragging yourself into the depths of history and lengthy conversations. Avoid rewatching the previous films to manage your expectations)
Review by Ron Tan