Sunday, January 2, 2022

The King's Man

Movie Name:
The King's Man
Year of Release: 2021
Director: Matthew Vaughn 
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Harris Dickinson, Djimon Hounsou, Charles Dance, Matthew Goode, Tom Hollander, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Alexandra Maria Lara, Stanley Tucci, Daniel Bruhl, Joel Basman, Todd Boyce, Alexander Shaw, August Diehl, Alison Steadman, David Kross
Genre: Action, Adventure
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3
View Trailer

Synopsis and Review:
The "Kingsman" series might have finally hit a snag with this unfortunate sequel from the creative mind of Matthew Vaughn and his collaborator, writer Karl Gajdusek (who also co-wrote Joseph Kosinski's "Oblivion" and some other B-movies, including Roger Donaldson's "The November Man"). This time around the narrative takes us back in time, to the beginning of the 20th century. The Duke of Oxford and his wife, are involved in a humanitarian mission with the Red Cross in South Africa. As the war there is still brewing, they get caught up right in the middle, and Lady Oxford is killed, leaving the Duke with his young son to raise by himself. A few years later, Conrad is almost an adult and wants to go out into the world and explore more, something that his father prevents and tries to shelter him from, as much as possible. When a dark conspiracy from a macabre group sets a series of events in place, resulting and precipitating the First World War, Conrad sees those events as an opportunity to enlist and make a contribution to his country. While his father initially prevents him from doing so, he does enlist his help to go to Russia and thwart the nefarious influence of Rasputin, who controls the Czar's decisions almost entirely. As Conrad becomes legally an adult, he decides to enlist anyway, much against his father's decision who fears for his safety above all. As Conrad fights in the trenches, darker forces are manipulating the players in the War, something the King of England is well aware of, and that he asks the Duke of Oxford help with.
While the previous "Kingsman" films where fairly entertaining endeavors, very much descendants of the James Bond lineage, but with a perspective of their own, particularly due to the material they originate from, namely the comics from Mark Millar, this current chapter decides to tell the story of how everything started, but in the process seems to have forgotten the entertaining factor altogether. The film laboriously and repetitively reinforces the topic that Lord Oxford doesn't want his son to go to war, and that Conrad really does want to go to war. This battle of words between father and son looms over most of the narrative, removing most of the dynamics that touch upon supporting characters, including the typical villain, and even the peers who always appear in spy films and are possessed of quirky personalities or traits. Considering all the time that is spent rehashing the battle between father and son, one would expect that those characters themselves would have some more of a background, or motivation or arc, sadly that's never the case. Lord Oxford and Conrad for that matter, are as enigmatic by the end of the narrative as they are when it first started, the same going for the members on their team (why is Polly an expert in decoding, or for that matter, a spy herself, why is Shola also a secret agent with terrific athletic skills). It's clearly a film from a very skilled director who has a point of view, but this time around, the narrative that has been constructed is simply non existent, giving nothing to the supporting cast to work with, with the notable exception of the episode with Rasputin, which Rhys Ifans gobbles with gusto, but sadly never really goes very far or extends to the remainder of the narrative itself (the main villain while fairly predictable, also has very little to do throughout the entire film). Ralph Fiennes as phenomenally talented as he is, is indeed the sole reason to see this film, but the film doesn't rise up to his talent. The cinematography from Ben Davis is impeccable as is the score from Dominic Lewis and Matthew Margeson and production design from Darren Gilford. A big let down from a clearly talented director who probably needs to pay closer attention to the material he's working with.