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  • Writer's pictureOli Law

The King's Man ★★★

Matthew Vaughn

Starring Ralph Fiennes, Harris Dickinson, Rhys Ifans, Gemma Arterton, Djimon Hounsou

Matthew Vaughn's street spy Bond rival gets a blast from the past in the form of The King's Man, a World War 1 epic serving as a prequel to an already disjointed franchise.

Back in 2014, Kingsman: The Secret Service arrived as a breath of fresh air in a world filled with dreary grit and dull action. It's oxymoronic approach to providing east-end relatable characters with over-the-top action set pieces became the perfect concoction for a popcorn blockbuster with some balls.

After a less than lacklustre sequel, we travel back in time to the dawn of the First World War, where the Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) protects his son from the oncoming storm of events between 1914 and 1918. Although it feels slightly dishonourable to present very real and harrowing moments in a fictional world, it does well not to take them lightly.

Fiennes carries The King's Man with the grace and decorum of a true gentleman than the franchise severely lacked in its previous entry: The Golden Circle. Whilst the supporting cast of Gemma Arterton and Djimon Hounsou help to establish the camaraderie of the order, without 'The King's Man' himself, the movie would fall apart.

Equally Rhys Ifans portrays a fictional version of Rasputin with enough depth in his short screen time that you wish the story had focused more on the battle between him and Fiennes (ironically how the movie was sold in its marketing campaign).

Stylistically, the action shots are well choreographed, particularly the encounter where protagonist and Rasputin finally meet. Though the scene itself is a stand out moment, once brought to resolve, the pacing is thrown completely out of balance.

It's this lack of clarity in vision and message that ultimately fails to bump The King's Man above anything more than its action-adventure status. Whilst I still enjoyed the movie the second time around, I'm still left longing for the charm and charisma that the original oozed so effortlessly.

The King's Man available in select cinemas now

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