I didn’t expect much from this movie, hardly anything to be exact, because while I enjoyed the first Kingsman movie, Kingsman: The Secret Service from 2014, as a solid and thoroughly entertaining action comedy, the 2017 sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle was pretty trashy and based on the trailer I wasn’t sure the prequel The King’s Man would turn out any better. But luckily for me it did! Although my main concern from the trailer also turned out to be my main problem with the movie …
The King‘s Man, apart from a short prologue set during the Boer War, starts on the brink of the Great War (aka World War I) and follows the Duke of Oxford, who later ends up founding Kingsman, and his son. While the duke is a well-connected pacifist, who has secretly established a world-wide spy network, his son is desperate to take a more active approach and join the army but is forbidden by his protective father. The movie goes on to show, in a fascinating mix of historical reality and action thriller fiction, to chronicle the developments of the war.
Again, I really, surprisingly liked this. The mixture of fact and fiction is sometimes absurd but pretty fun and pretty much all the actors do a really great job, especially Ralph Fiennes as Orlando Oxford and Tom Hollander, who plays all three of the cousin monarchs involved in the war. Also, Gemma Arterton provided at least one interesting female character and Daniel Brühl is almost alway a good addition to any movie.
However, Daniel Brühl is also part of one of my two main problems with the movie: The German accents of everyone but Brühl are horrid. Yes, this is typical and here obviously done to parody especially Kaiser Wilhelm and set him apart from Hollander‘s other two monarchs, but especially in a side-by-side comparison between Brühl‘s character and the Kaiser, the later one‘s accent becomes painfully awkward because Brühl somehow manages to come across as distinctly German without sounding like an absolute cliche. I could live with that though, I am used to anything that‘s supposed to be German sounding like this after all. But I definitely didn’t like it.
I did have a way bigger problem with another character anyways: Rasputin. Portrayed by Rhys Ifans the character was just exhausting. I get why he was in there, I get why he was the way he was, I still think you could have shaved probably a quarter hour off the movie just by shortening the Rasputin scenes to a more bearable amount. His interactions with other characters were really awkward, especially with the British duo, although, again, I kind of get why. But at one point they became painful to watch and then they also introduced a magical element to the movie that came out of nowhere and, to me at least, felt super weird. Add to that a horribly drawn out fight scene and the fact that all of this happens in the first half of the movie and it just left me annoyed and kind of bored, so it took me a while to get back into the otherwise very fun movie.
This time I went to the movies with just my brother, who enjoyed the movie a bit more than I did, mainly because he adores both action movies and history, so this hit right in the middle of his nerdy little heart:
Kinda nice film which sometimes positively subverts the viewer’s expectations but sometimes looses itself a bit too much in its caricatures and overly long comedic scenesMy brother, the nerd
All in all, I enjoyed The King‘s Man a whole lot, it was a fun and thrilling mix of fact and fiction with lots of action and a few unexpected twists and turns. However, I simply didn’t like the scenes with Rasputin, they felt way too drawn out and interrupted my immersion in the movie, leaving me annoyed and bored and definitely affecting how I perceived the second part of the story, mostly because it just took me some time to get back into it. Still, a positive surprise and way better than I expected!