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The King's Man Movie Review : Action is first-rate ; nice blend of spy thriller and conventional war drama

Modified On: 14 January 2022 | Reviewed By:

After ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ (2014) and ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017), producer-director Matthew Vaugh returns with a prequel on the events that led to the founding of The Kingsman.

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In 'The King's Man' a group of some of the worst tyrants and criminal masterminds are plotting to trigger a Great War that will wipe out millions of people from across the globe. It’s up to Orlando, Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes), to stop them in the nick of time. And also found the world’s first independent intelligence agency.

The film begins at a concentration camp in 1902 where Orlando, his wife Emily (Alexandera Maria Lara), and their young son Condra visit while working for the Red Cross. However, a sudden Boer sniper attack on the camp sees Emily die, leading the pacifist Orlando to work towards warding off such conflicts.

Twelve years later, while he has recruited two of his staff, Pollyanna Wilkins aka Polly (Gemma Carterton) and Shola (Djimon Hounsou) into his spy network, Orlando forbids Conrad (Harris Dickinson) from joining the army as the Great War approaches.

While it’s an interesting thought to make a prequel on what led to the founding of The Kingsman, one can’t say the same about the screenplay with World War I weaved in. Unlike the first two films which, in a light-hearted manner, took on the spy genre, with slick action sequences and a good dose of humour, this one tries to balance with being a conventional war drama at the same time.

On the plus side, Vaughn makes up for the strange blend of the spy thriller genre and war drama with some interesting characters, particularly Grigori Rasputin (Rhys Ifans), a mystic who had immense influence over Nicholas II, the last emperor of Russia, Erik Jan Hanussen (Daniel Brühl), an Austrian who was associated with Adolf Hitler, and Mata Hari (Valerie Pachner) a Dutch exotic dancer and also a German spy during that time. Not to forget, keeping the main villain of the story, the Shepherd, in the dark till the climax scene when he comes face to face with Orlando at his headquarters atop a steep icy mountain.

The action, in keeping with the franchise, is first-rate, be it Orlando, Conrad, Shola and Polly’s fight with Rasputin, the war sequence, or the climax fight between Orlando and The Shepherd, the mastermind behind England, Germany and Russia’s moves in the great war.

Fiennes delivers a fine performance as the Duke of Oxford, while Ifans is fantastic as the mystic monk Rasputin. Arterton, Hounsou, Dickinson, Tom Hollander (as King George of England, Kaiser Wilhem of Germany and Tsar Nicholas of Russia) are good in their parts.

Even though World War I doesn’t seem to naturally fit into the Kingsman universe, ‘The King’s Man’ is an interesting watch. And going by the glimpse of Vladimir Lenin (August Diehl) and Adolf Hitler (David Kross) in the end credits, it looks like Vaughn is contemplating incorporating World War II in the second prequel of his suave and sophisticated spy franchise.

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