In the midst of World War I, a group of British gentlemen form an independent intelligence agency to stop a cabal from world domination.
The King's Man (2021)
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Written by Matthew Vaughn and Karl Gajdusek
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Harris Dickinson,
Djimon Hounsou, Rhys Ifans, Tom Hollander, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Daniel Brühl, August Diehl
Prequel to 2015's Kingsman: The Secret Service
Based on characters created by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons
I feel like I've been waiting a decade to watch The King's Man. This film was originally slated for a late 2019 release. It then suffered FIVE delays, and finally ended up with a December 2021 release date. After mixed reviews, my expectations started to decline. But I must say, I don't understand where the hate is coming from. Maybe some people just don't appreciate history, as this film molds the Kingsman Agency's origin story into the true story of World War I, namely the fall of the Russian Tsar and the global implications of Archduke Ferdinand's assassination. While not as funny as the first two films, The King's Man is loaded with Matthew Vaughn's signature brand of action and a fantastic cast.
In the early 20th century, the Duke of Oxford (Fiennes) makes a pledge to keep his son Conrad (Dickinson) out of harm's way. But when WWI is started by a cabal of ambitious evildoers led by The Shepherd, Oxford decides to take matters into his own hands and assassinate Grigori Rasputin (Ifans, who steals the show). Tom Hollander plays George V of England, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia, all of whom were cousins in real life and looked fairly similar. We get to see a fantastical behind-the-scenes look at how World War I was manufactured by a maniacal Scot. It's all quite outrageous, and there's never a dull moment. There's also a great deal of heart behind these characters, and it definitely feels like part of the same series.
Hopefully, The King's Man starts its own spin-off franchise, as I would love to see how the Kingsman handle Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia. But for now, we've got a surprisingly exciting prequel that provides an interesting origin story for a franchise that nobody expected to be as awesome as it's become.