Film Review: The King’s Man (2021)

Continuing a Kingsman franchise that I’m not sure anyone asked for, The King’s Man is a puerile prequel best avoided

“Please… take your trousers off and sit down”

I didn’t mind Kingsman but really didn’t foresee a franchise in the making so I guess that’s why I don’t work in Hollywood. A shocking sequel followed and now a prequel continues this universe with The King’s Man. And it isn’t much better, Matthew Vaughn’s brand of film-making really not doing it for me at all.

His is an anarchic take on history as we open on the brink of the First World War, where avowed pacifist Ralph Fiennes’s Orlando Oxford has set up a spy network to try and stop the conflict affecting Great Britain. He also forbids his son to join the army but when Gavrilo Princip does what he has to in Sarajevo, all bets are off.

What then follows is tonally all over the show as nudge nudge wink wink farce sits next to war scenes that yearn to be profound, an attempted historical sweep involving three European empires undercut by sub-Bond shenanigans as Vaughn delivers the extravaganza required of a would-be franchise hit.

There’s of course no female roles of note apart from Gemma Arterton’s Polly, instead just lads of varying hue. Tom Hollander³ as he is credited fares best as he gets to play all three cousins Tsar Nicholas, Kaiser Wilhelm and George V. But then there’s Rhys Ifans’ painfully inane Rasputin and it is just all too wearying. Not for me, at all.

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