The King’s Man

The King's Man

The King’s Man

In the early years of the 20th century, the Kingsman agency is formed to stand against a cabal plotting a war to wipe out millions.

The origins of the super-secret spy agency are shown in The King's Man. Orlando Oxford () is a war veteran and aristocrat, who does not want his son Conrad () to get involved when the actions of a shadowy organization lead to the start of a Great War. However, Conrad soon learns that Orlando has been secretly working with his butler Shola () and nanny Polly () to form a secret network of domestics, which sets them on the path to eliminate Grigori Rasputin (), a member of this secret organization.

The King's Man is a film co-written and directed by Matthew Vaughn and is a prequel to the previous films Kingsman: The Secret Service and Kingsman: The Golden Circle, all of which are based on the graphic novel “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar. The story is set in the early 1900s, during the start of the First World War, and protagonist Orland Oxford, a sworn pacifist, is adamantly against his son Conrad's desire to join the war effort headed up by General Kitchener () and his second-in-command Morton (). However, Orlando secretly puts his own plans in motion to ensure an end to the war.

While both 2014's Kingsman: The Secret Service and its 2017 sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle were solid box office successes, known for their mix of hyper-violence and dark comedy, it is puzzling why Matthew Vaughn decided to go the prequel route for The King's Man, especially since it ends up being a film that is much tonally different than the predecessors. In fact, the closest The King's Man comes to matching the frenetic fun of the previous films is a showdown with Grigori Rasputin, who is marketed as being the primary antagonist of the film, though the true villain is a foul-mouthed Blofeld-like leader of a secret council that also includes Erik Jan Hanussen () and Mata Hari (Valerie Pachner).

The King's Man really starts to fall off in the rails in the second half of the film when it suddenly decides to become a war drama that plays the action with deadly seriousness. Even though the film does return to form someone for the climax, The King's Man ultimately ends up being a film that is nowhere as fun as the previous two Kingsmen films.

I would almost go as far and say that The King's Man might end up being a franchise killer since the film differs so much from the previous films that it might be difficult for Matthew Vaughn to come back with a proper sequel. At the end of the day, I will only recommend The King's Man for franchise completionists.

The King's Man opens on Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Trailer for The King's Man

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How to Watch The King’s Man

Where to Stream The King’s Man

Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.