Almost six years ago a new action-comedy spy film hit the cinemas. Led by Colin Firth, Samuel L Jackson and a new star with Taron Egerton, Kingsman: The Secret Service was a huge hit and I for one, absolutely loved it. A couple of years later and the sequel was released and for me at least, it missed the mark. So, when I heard about a new film in the Kingsman Franchise known as The King’s Man, I was hesitant but hopeful as it was an origin story with a whole new cast. Thankfully, not only did it exceed my expectations, but it may also just give the first film a run for its money!
The film begins in the early 1900s during the Boer War where we see Orlando, Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) alongside his wife Emily and son Conrad as they visit a Concentration Camp in Africa. Sadly, Emily is killed when the camp becomes under attack from a Boer Sniper. Reeling from the tragic loss of the love of his life, Orlando sets up a secret organisation of servant spies to aide the protection of the United Kingdom and its allies. When the outbreak of World War I hits, Conrad is determined to serve his country and fight with his mates. However, Orlando refuses to let him enlist and decides to bring him into his secret network. A secret spy agency would not be complete without an opposing force. This comes with another secret society of criminals lead by an individual only known as ‘The Shephard’. The evil leader is determined to see the war destroy the United Kingdom and is doing everything in his power to ensure their downfall.
I was extremely excited for this film’s release. Not only because I was a fan of the first film and I was keen to see how they built the Kingsman organisation, but because I was a fan of the leading role in Ralph Fiennes, and I have not disliked a film I have seen with him in it. After the let down of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, having Ralph Fiennes was a good sign. Add to that with another of my favourites with Djimon Hounsou as Shola, Orlando’s valet, The King’s Man was shaping up to be a great film.
The King’s Man had everything I expected; a decent plot that not only had me guessing and even borrows from actual historic events, lots of action with wonderfully choreographed fight scenes, heartbreak and of course – comedy. The writers Matthew Vaughn and Karl Gajdusek took those historic events and added their own comedic flare to it. For example, the underlying story of the three feuding cousin monarchs of the German, Russian and British Empires, all played by the one actor with Tom Hollander at the helm. Hollander must have had so much fun playing the roles of King George, Kaiser Wilhelm, and Tsar Nicholas.
Gemma Arterton as Polly, Orlando’s maid is a complete sweetheart but is not afraid to put her foot down to pull Orlando back into line. She is also an absolute badass with a sniper rifle. Gemma Arterton is amazing and puts on a commanding performance of a strong female lead set in the 1900s when women were, well, you know, supposed to be ‘seen and not heard’. And alongside her is Djimon Hounsou, equally as outstanding and certainly lived up to my expectations. Then there is Harris Dickinson who portrays Orlando’s strong-willed son, Conrad. His body language showed a deep respect for his father but also displayed a determination to serve that was not going to be broken.
There are three main villains in The King’s Man, one of which is in deep shadow for most of the film, so I will leave that mystery for you to discover yourself. However, the other two are Erik Jan Hanussen, an adviser to Kaiser Wilhelm portrayed by Daniel Brühl. And the main antagonist, Rasputin portrayed by Rhys Ifans. Both in their respective roles are fantastic, but Rhys Ifans steps his evil into overdrive with his performance of Rasputin. I felt that Ifans was given the script and was told to just be as crazy as possible. Not only was his character terrifyingly evil, but it was also surprisingly hilarious. I guess that is what a Kingsman film is, right? Good vs Evil with expertly written comedy to mix it up. I think this is why I loved this film more than the second one. The bad guys were actually great!
Of course, I cannot skip past the legendary Ralph Fiennes. I had recently seen him in No Time To Die and like that film, everything I have seen him in, I have thoroughly enjoyed. I can now safely add The King’s Man to that ever-growing list. I felt his compassion, his love, his patriotism, and his profound heartbreak deep in my soul. Fiennes has this innate ability to get under my skin, not that I am complaining. His portrayal of Orlando, Duke of Oxford, is perfect. Perhaps, Ralph Fiennes is the secret ingredient that a lot of films are missing?
Matthew Vaughn, who directed, wrote, and produced the previous two films, has definitely redeemed himself with The King’s Man and I look forward to seeing what he brings with the next instalment to the franchise that is set for 2023. Vaughn brought on board a new cinematographer for this film, and it is probably what sets it apart from its predecessors. Ben Davis has mainly worked within the Marvel Franchise since 2014 and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed his style for this feature. Matthew Margeson and Dominic Lewis also joined forces to produce a stellar musical composition for the film.
All round, it is safe to say that The King’s Man, whilst a huge step back in time, is a huge leap forward for the Kingsman franchise. I enjoyed every moment of this film and I hope that you do to!
The King’s Man is out in cinemas around the country from January 6th. So, mask up and ensure you catch this amazing film before it leaves theatres because watching it at home just will not be the same.