By Jack Deegan
The Kingsman franchise has not been doing too well recently. After the critical and commercial success of “Kingsmen: The Secret Service,” it seemed like this was going to be an exciting new franchise to watch out for. Then, with the overall disappointment of its sequel “Kingsmen: The Golden Circle,” people started to turn on the franchise. Now, director Matthew Vaughn looks to try a different approach with the newest film in the franchise — a prequel origin story for the organization, which hit theaters in December and was released on HBO Max and Hulu on Feb. 18.
The film revolves around a group of history’s most infamous tyrants in the early 20th century as they plot a war to wipe out millions of people, with only one man, Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) racing to stop them.
“The King’s Man” is a big mess of a movie. I was excited about going into the film because of how much I loved the first Kingsman film, and even though not many people like the second one, I still had a fun time with it. “The King’s Man” was a massive letdown for me. Not only was it boring, but it felt like a Kingsman movie in name only.
The actual story in the movie is all over the place, and it never gets as interesting as it could. There are some really interesting themes in here involving the fear of losing a loved one, but the way it was all executed was done in such a bland way. I was constantly checking the runtime to see how much was left because of how bored I was. The central story of stopping all of the tyrants never felt urgent or interesting. We were never shown the stakes in a way that made us care more than just saying everyone is going to die.
In fact, it really feels like this movie is four different films put together as it’s overstuffed with too much going on. There’s enough plot for two different Kingsman prequels, a little bit of “1917” thrown in there and it’s all topped off with enough world history for a movie of its own. There are a lot of good ideas in here, but when the plot is constantly shifting around, it all gets lost in the shuffle and everything suffers because of that. They couldn’t seem to figure out what it wanted to do in the story and its tone. It presents itself very seriously as if it’s telling a war drama, but then out of nowhere there would be a joke that felt out of place and jarring. Already with an uneventful story, the movie is a bore to get through and left much more to be desired.
One of the things that made the first Kingsman film stand out was the action sequences. The fast-paced hyper violent and well-choreographed action was worth the price of admission alone, and it was a big selling point of that movie. You could tell that it was all very thought out with the long takes that made for some of the best on-screen action ever. Even in the largely criticized sequel, the action was still up to par and gave us something fresh and new to look at. The action in “The King’s Man” is forgettable and disappointing. There aren’t any action scenes that stand out whatsoever. It felt like it was an afterthought and made each scene all the more uninteresting. Action isn’t everything, but when a movie is already suffering from a lackluster story it’s important to have something to grab our interest. That was nowhere to be seen here.
I wanted to like this movie a lot, and I really thought I was going to. There’s already been a new Kingsman movie announced, and hopefully, it gets things back on track for the franchise. There’s all of the potential in the world for this to be a success if they took their time and worked out all of the issues. I’m still on board with the franchise and willing to give it one last shot, but I’m not the most optimistic about it anymore. This movie also has a truly insane post-credit scene, which I won’t spoil, but I have to mention where they tease a new character for the sequel, and they treat it like it’s the big on-screen debut we’ve been waiting for, which is some laughably bad presentation that I can’t stop thinking about.
“The King’s Man” is ultimately an underwhelming and overstuffed entry in an already floundering franchise that doesn’t capture the magic of the original or even its predecessor. At the end of the day, the film's biggest crime is just being as “ok” and bland as they come.