A review of the “The King’s Man”

Following the commercial success of “Kingsman: The Secret Service” (2015) and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” (2017), five years later we have “The King’s Man” which claims to be an origin story for this secret service of English gentlemen. However, none of the characters in the earlier movies feature in this prequel which is set in and around the First World War.

The director and co-writer Matthew Vaughn is the same though and we have the familiar over-the-top mixture of action, violence and humour. What is really different this time is the representation of so many historical characters and incidents by scriptwriters who clearly know their history but have delighted in twisting it to fit the Kingsman narrative. 

So we have Tom Hollander in the triple roles of British King George, German Kaiser Wilhelm and Russian Tsar Nicholas, Charles Dance as British General Kitchener, and an unrecognisable Rhys Ifans as the Russian mystic Rasputin with a host of brief appearances from the likes of Mata Hart and President Woodrow Wilson to Vladimir Lenin and Adolf Hitler.

Crazy? That’s Matthew Vaughan for you. The good guys include actors Ralph Fiennes (M in the James Bond franchise), Djimon Hounsou (the black fighter in “Gladiator”) and Gemma Arterton (former Bond girl and “Tamara Drewe”), thus appealing to the elderly, ethnic and female demographics, while top baddie turns out to be a Scottish nationalist who out hangs out on top of a hugely tall mountain crag housing a farm of goats. 

Crackers? You bet – but a lot of fun, although turning the Great War into an action-comedy is uncomfortable at times. 


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