Let’s face it, there is usually a hidden problem with the second or third or fourth part of most movies and it is a phenomenon that we have come to see over the years. Movies like Blade: Trinity, The Mummy 3, Taken 3 and the recent tiring fourth installment of The Matrix amongst others are some of the many movies out there that make me feel making a good movie twice or thrice is nearly impossible. But then there is The Lord of the Rings, The Godfather, Dollars Trilogy and some others which make it look possible, so maybe I’m just being a pessimist. However, The King’s Man is the beginning of a spy franchise like 007, so what is this little hitch that the third part brings forth.
Directed by Matthew Vaughn, the third film in the Kingsman franchise is the prequel to the previous installments and the origin story of how the organization was formed. Starring Ralph Fiennes as Orlando Oxford, a man who became a pacifist after the loss of his wife in a war in South Africa and now shields his son from the horrors of war. 12 years later, a new evil group moves in the shadow with a leader that is only known as the Shepherd. This is a group so powerful it influences the three greatest monarchs; Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany, Tsar Nicholas of Russia and King George of England, in a war that will wipe out millions of people. With the help of his two comrades, Shola (Djimon Hounsou) and Polly (Gemma Arterton), Orlando has to put aside his pacifist nature and stop the war before more lives are lost.
The third film in the franchise is unlike its predecessors with the way it lurches back in time to give viewers a historical narrative that carries much emotional depth. Much focus is on Orlando and the repetitive cycle he takes to stop his son from joining the war and protecting him from harm’s way. The main character’s constant sermon is about the evils of war that took his wife’s life and the need for peace. The movie carries much emotional weight, a burden which is laid on Ralph Fiennes and a sombre tone that the two previous movies before it lack. This is not a flaw in the movie but may serve as a big challenge for fans of the franchise due to its slow pace and narrative style. Apart from the occasional action sequences, much of the movie is used to recount a dark period in the history of World War 1. The movie makes you want to pick up a history book or surf the internet rather than the keen effort of Vaughn to show how the spy organization was formed.
However, the historical approach adds an unusual and somewhat unique ingredient to the new spy film. But does it make it better than the first two? No, but maybe a little better than the second movie in the franchise. If anything, it makes one question if the franchise still has more in its engine; then with this, the question of longevity comes in. With the post-credit scene, it seems the next installment will lean more into the past or maybe not. However, whatever the next installment brings forth, we want no more history about a bitter old monarch who wants to burn the world down. Also, another intriguing question is if the franchise will survive long enough like the 007 franchise, because as far as we all know Bond isn’t going anywhere.
The impressive cast and few action set pieces are elements that jar the movie back to life when it gets lost in the constant debacles of war. The hyperexcitable camera movements that are known with the franchise are still intact, an element that has come to be a trademark for the spy movie. As always, the exceptional Blood Diamond star, Djimon Hounsou, shines alongside Ralph Fiennes but a more applaudable performance is that of Rhys Ifans, the dancing monk. With its overstretched second act and a repetitive father and son drama, The King’s Man is an enjoyable watch elevated by no more than its brilliant cast. Perhaps it is time to go back to the present.
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- Seeing Ralph Fiennes in action is like M abandoning his desk duties and unleashing total chaos.
- The Rasputin dancing fight scene is the best action scene in the entirety of the movie. If I could ask for permission to rewatch a moment in the movie, that would be it.
- The movie subtly reminds viewers to always be nice to animals. Just like humans, they never forget the faces that hurt them.
The King’s Man is in cinemas.