Matthew Vaughn has an interesting little superhero niche going. After providing entertaining romps like Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class, he’s now turned to the Kingsman franchise, which has delivered two great entries thus far, introducing the world to some “classy” action in the process. Now comes the third, The King’s Man, which actually serves as a prequel.
The movie takes place during World War 1, in which things are going to hell in a handbasket. A shadowy figure is trying to turn the tide between three royal brothers in an effort to attain power. Out to stop him is the Duke of Oxford, Orlando (Ralph Fiennes), who, along with his servants Djimon Hounsou, Gemma Arterton, and his younger son Conrad (Harris Dickinson), set out to stop him.
While The King’s Man can’t quite live up to the more energetic and high-tech entries in the series, it still has more than enough moments to serve up some good Saturday afternoon viewing.
The Story’s All Over, But the Action Is the Thing
One big part of the problem in liking The King’s Man as much as the other movies in the series would be the story. While it does serve its purpose setting up “the big bad,” it takes a good while to get things moving in terms of explanation. There’s also a part in the middle that tries to move things in a different direction, though it’s not entirely successful. In fact, you may be scratching your head over how it all concludes. (I won’t spoil it here, but it involves one of the main characters and it’s hard to miss.)
Nevertheless, when Vaughn and his team buckle down for action, they truly deliver. One standout sequence involves Orlando and his mates battling against Grigori Rasputin, played wonderfully over-the-top by Rhys Ifans. He puts on a show, literally, while fending off their forces, performing techniques like they were dance moves. Likewise, Hounsou and Fiennes also do great work here, particularly with the choreography throughout.
There’s also a thrilling action sequence at the conclusion that picks things up nicely, with one final assault on the villa where the baddie resides. Again, no spoilers, but it aligns pretty well, leaving audiences entertained that they came along for the ride after all.
Vaughn directs with a steady hand, with some truly impressive shots. During one swordfight, for example, you actually see the point-of-view from the sides of each sword, involving you more in the action. There’s other fun stuff too, including something unexpectedly cool with a Billy goat. That’s all I’ll say.
Good Performances All Around
While there’s no classy Colin Firth to save the day this time around, The King’s Man still has a game enough cast. Fiennes is terrific as Orlando, a man with complicated feelings when it comes to protecting his son, but still quite sworn to his duty. Hounsou is excellent as his servant and right-hand man, Shola, and Gemma Arterton damn near steals the show as the no-nonsense servant Polly, who’s quite quick with a weapon.
The baddies aren’t bad either. Ifans, of course, steals the show as Rasputin, and Daniel Bruhl (of Civil War fame) do alright as Erik Jan Hanussen. The other actors are good, but this is mostly the show for the main cast.
There’s also some witty dialogue that’s delivered in a solid manner, especially some jokes revolving around Orlando and Rasputin. Again, it can be drowned out by the unnecessary story within the center of the movie. However, if you can get around that, you’ll have a good time.
The King’s Man Serves Its Purpose
I do prefer the other films in the series, and, of course, nothing can beat Vaughn’s brilliant take on Stardust from several years ago. It’s still his finest work. Still, The King’s Man continues the lineage of the comic book series decently enough, and it serves up enough action thrills to take in. Plus, Ifans is a wonder to take in as Rasputin. Seriously, you’ll wonder why he doesn’t have his own movie. The Ras Sputin? Nah, it’d never work.
VIBE Rating: 7/10
Looking for another decent action film? Maybe you’ll like Uncharted. Maybe.
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