Bit of spicy referencing for you.
The Kingsman return, but as The King’s Man in this new spin-off for the famed franchise. Whether or not it was a good idea is any one’s guess, but that’s developing a franchise for you. Throwing us back to the early 1900’s and through to the first World War, the film wants to answer the question: “But where did the Kingsman come from?”.
I don’t know why movies love going back to olden times when the present is just as interesting. But in this same respect, it allows them to be playful with a plethora of figureheads from the era. Whether it’s Rasputin being the absolute horndog he is (excellently played by Rhys Ifans), or King George, Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas being played by the same actor (Tom Hollander), it’s all “aim for accuracy, then twist”.
It’s just unfortunate that the ‘twist’ doesn’t provide anything more to the film. Sure it provides entertainment, but maybe it’s the charm of Kingsman: The Secret Service which is missing. Ralph Fiennes does a fine job of being his gentlemanly self, but then the film has you try to care for their character’s son. I simply could not and did not care, meaning the film lost any kind of emotional gravitas for me. Alongside that, you see big name actors (looking at you Matthew Goode and Aaron Taylor-Johnson) in background roles, which then takes away any sense of surprise.
For a spy film, it was very easy to read.
While it may be one that has some superhero sensitivities, it also retains the racy stylings from its comic origins. And these unfortunately do not mesh as well in a bygone era, which tries to ‘twist’ it to some sense of modernity, while whiplashing back to older times.
I’d let it have one more time around, especially with the cast involved. But I would hope it has better tread under foot, or the jacket covering the mud it’s about to step on may give way.
The Kingsman franchise itself is fine.
But the direction of The King's Man needs to course correct with its next feature.
Fiennes carries the film on his back, with wonderful support from Gemma Aterton and Djimon Hounsou. But even then the romp is stifling. Lacking any sense of tension and loss, the stars simply lose grip on a story which tries to be fun, but isn't sure on how to be.
Manners do not maketh man in this case.