The King’s Man

The King's Man

I was in the mood for a rip-roaring period adventure, particularly one starring Ralph Fiennes, so I accepted the offer of a free digital copy of The King’s Man. Unfortunately, the movie wound up being deadly dull.

(I’d seen the first Kingsman in a sneak preview, when theaters did that, or I knew how to find them. I tried the second, but I couldn’t cope with the level of violence.)

The Kingsman concept was never the strongest, but this one has very little connection to the idea, in spite of supposedly being the origin of the group. (I wanted more generational mentoring by good-looking men in nice suits. I could see where this was an attempt at something similar, but it was faint.) This movie takes itself much more seriously; it needed more humor. It’s basically antique James Bond with anti-war sermonizing layered on top. It’s also too long, at two hours and ten minutes, and muddled.

The King's Man

I was disappointed that it starts by killing the wife/mother, a cliche we really need to let go of. Fiennes’ duke keeps getting involved in battles around the time of World War I. It turns out that these global conflicts are all due to a secret conspiracy cabal, of which Rasputin is a part. Fiennes is keeping his son Conrad out of the war, but the boy wants to fight.

A large section of the film has Fiennes and his buddies setting out to kill Rasputin (Rhys Ifans). It takes 42 minutes to get there, though. And I hate to tell the filmmakers, but hearing bad words from men in period dress is just not that shocking.

The tone is all over the place, ranging from boys’ adventure to cynical anti-war lectures to a very very British man saving the day because he’s smarter than everyone else. (Also very British: the nanny (Gemma Arterton) who shows up randomly to save the day and lecture about “boys being messy”.) The visual effects are, as expected, impressive, but I spent a lot of time checking the time clock and wishing the movie was going by faster.

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