The King's Man Review The Nerdy Basement

The King’s Man Review: An Overstuffed, Perfect Prequel

Matthew Vaughn’s prequel ‘The King’s Man’ is entertaining, worthy trip to theaters

After the box office success of Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), and Kingsman: The Golden Circle(2017), producer and director Matthew Vaughn return to the spy franchise, but this time, it’s a prequel that depicts the events that led to the founding of civilized but merciless spy organization -The Kingsman, and the story is based on some true events and spans across the events of World War I and does laying the groundwork for a sequel as well.

The movie starts in 1902 at a concentration camp where Orlando (Ralph Fiennes) and his wife Emily (Alexandra Maria ) along with their young son Condra visit while working for the Red Cross. And in a sniper attack on the camp, we see Emily dying, leaving Orlando to work towards warding off such unforeseeable conflicts. After a certain period of time, Orlando recruits two others from his own working staff to join his spy organization. They are Polly (Gemma Arterton) and Shola (Djimon Hounsou). Condra (Harris Dickinson) is now grown and wants to serve in the army, while Orlando always forbids him from doing so.

The King's Man Review The Nerdy Basement
Photo Credit: 20th Century Studios

On the other side of the story, we have Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) a mystic who has a major influence over the Russians, and Erik Jan (Daniel Bruhl). Erik is close associated with Adolf Hitler and Mata Hari played by Valerie Pachner, who is a German spy mixed in all of this. Spy story aside, there is a serious war drama undertone in the storyline that brings together all of these characters and churns out their best performances.

Rhys Ifans’s portrayal of Rasputin is a particular stand out from the rest and is indeed it is his career-best performance, while the other actors give their usual best. But it’s the screenplay of this movie that plays the spoilsport. The movie oftentimes feels slow and picks up a little later not keeping up a consistent pace. The movie also feels very cramped up and is trying to tell the story that fits two movies into a single one. The movie would have benefitted immensely with an extra 20 minutes in its runtime to fully flesh out its story.

The action has been always the strong suit when it came to Kingsman films and it continues to do so even in the prequel. All the action sequences are choreographed and framed well but the action sequence with Polly, Rasputin, and Shola; along with the war sequence stand out the most. The stunt team that is involved in the Russian set-piece delivers an amazing action sequence that is one of the best in recent years and it sprawls well over 10 minutes.

Ben Davis’s cinematography is top class and the music composed by Dominic Lewis and Matthew Margeson elevates the war sequences and adds a lot of grandeur and cinematic appeal. Darren Gilford’s production design needs to be specifically mentioned as the entire set design used for the film and costumes do leave a lasting impact.

The King's Man Review The Nerdy Basement
Photo Credit: 20th Century Studios

They are very rich in detail and stay true to the history and the accuracies of their time. Editing by Rob Hall, Jason Ballantine takes a little beating during the first act but they make up for it in the final act, which sets up a very exciting finale with the team of Orlando facing off against the Shepherd. Shepherd is the main antagonist of the movie and his entire reveal is one of the best things about the prequel and should be experienced on the big screen itself.

Overall, Matthew Vaughn’s attempt at blending the World War I story within a spy thriller works for the most part and at its core, the movie is still a father and son story and it’s handled quite well. The movie replaces the unnecessary humor that was present in the Kingsman movies and charges it with emotions and drama. The movie tries to fit in historical events and albeit with a few changes and some of them work to a little extent. ‘The King’s Man’ is ambitious and is led with strong character portrayals from its brilliant cast.

The King’s Man is now playing in theaters and will stream exclusively on Hulu starting February 18th.

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