The King’s Man (2021)

Quick Synopsis: World War 1 spy shit

First off, that’s a weirdly awkward title. It feels like it’s designed to confuse people who are asked to get it as a Christmas gift for someone, they’re definitely going to accidentally get Kingsman. Awkward title aside, this is a fairly fun movie. The biggest flaw is that it doesn’t really feel like a Kingsman movie. Spy movies are usually full of futuristic gadgets and technology, so I was curious as to how this would be done in the past. Turns out, they don’t. The closest they get is “this is a parachute”.

It’s not as slick as the previous films are either. There’s nothing that comes anywhere close to the church scene from the first one. That’s kind of to be expected as those scenes were based around music, and with this being set during the first world war it would have been weird if they played modern songs during it, so the options were limited. Also, since the society isn’t set up yet, you don’t have the style that the other two films have. So this is a Kingsman film without the gadgets, the music, and the style. You know, the three things which are the cornerstone of the franchise.

It is weirdly fascinating though. It does play fast and loose with historical accuracy, but then there are moments that are more historically accurate than they need to be. Rasputin really was that difficult to kill in real life, he was poisoned, shot, then shot again when he got back up. Also, the moment where Archduke Ferdinand was killed was more accurate than you’d think it would be. He really did survive an attempted bomb attack, and then end up being shot because his driver took a wrong turning and ended up going past a cafe where Gavrilo Princip was sitting, who just stood up and shot him and his wife. I’m sure there are even more historical bonus’s that I missed, and I look forward to finding out about them.

If you look at this outside of being a Kingsman movie, it’s fine. It’s entertaining, it’s funny, it’s violent, and it’s interesting. There are a few small missteps though. One is the pacing. There are moments that are far too slow and plodding. This film is over 2 hours long and you can easily lose about 20 minutes I’d say. Especially at the start before the reveal, we know where the film is going and it takes far too long to get there. The other issue is the reveal of the “big bad”. It’s far too obvious. If a film like this keeps a character in shadow and doesn’t let you see their face for most of it, 99% of the time it’s because it’s a character the audience knows. Chronologically this is the earliest film in the series so it can’t be someone from one of the other films, and there’s really only one person the film has been introduced to that it could be. It’s way too obvious and incredibly disappointing, even when the film tries to misdirect you by thinking that character died, since you don’t actually see him die, you know he probably survived, that’s just basic film language.

If they revealed him at the start it could have been better. Yes, you would have lost the shock, but you would have gained tension. When you saw him in a room with one of the good guys, in the back of your head will be the worry that he’s going to kill them.

There are moments of greatness though. There’s an almost silent action scene set in No Mans Land which is incredibly ballsy and unique. Actually, the best parts of this film are when it’s on the frontlines, they provide the pathos needed, great action scenes, and fantastic character work. That section is disappointingly brief but does lead to a moment that will surprise the hell out of you. It’s one of the few genuine shocks I can remember seeing unfold on screen for quite a while.

So in summary. See this, but you can afford to wait until it hits television screens.

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