There’s something to be said about an origin story. It’s either hit or miss. There is never a middle ground it seems. But do fans ever really need to know how something came to be? Do we care who Willy Wonka was before he got the factory? Does one really need to know where Alien came from before it met Ripley? Sometimes it’s an intriguing question, where did the legends stem from, but most of the time it should be something for a fan to ponder, not a director to oversee. The new origin story, The King’s Man probably isn’t a tale that should have been told.
The first Kingsman film was a golden hit. An amazing spy, shoot em up movie that had me wanting all those gizmos and gadgets for my own. Taron Egerton led the way to spy dapper gory glory. The church scene alone…worth every fangirl moment I had. The second film came in, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and didn’t quite live up to the first, but still had its fair share of espionage fun qualities (and Elton John). And then the origin story no one asked for was created. Why? How? Maybe we should have consulted with the tailors a bit longer.
The King’s Man is the 1900’s origin story of how the Kingsman espionage empire came to be. It crosses historical borders to explain how the group had a hand in some the most monumental events during World War I. Rasputin, the war itself, the murder of Archduke Ferdinand, all the events and historical figures all have one connection, Ralph Fiennes, the Duke of Oxford. The Duke and his son Conrad Oxford, played by Harris Dickinson, are suddenly wrapped up in the beginning of war and the creation of it. Blah blah blah. It’s sort of hard to explain the premise. It leaps through years, events and sort of just happens and then ends. There’s a bad guy who’s behind all of it and the Duke of Oxford’s hired help becomes spies, and everyone can fight really well for some reason. It’s sort of all over the place and doesn’t really have a “wow” moment. It’s just a vignette of strange webs that try to connect themselves to how the Kingsman came to be.
I love the original Kingsman film. Matthew Vaughn is an amazing action filled director. But this movie was pretty bad. And I don’t want to write that. I wanted to love this movie. I wanted to walk out and be so excited for the next film (yes there is a fourth on the horizon). Instead the minute the credits rolled I left. I wanted to shake off the movie itself. It was almost so laughable I didn’t want to admit it. The last act of the movie has a hero moment that I guessed as a joke and when it happened I buried my head in my hands. I don’t know how this script even worked. It was just a miss.
I saw what the film had and there were some genuine great ideas in there. Connecting the Kingsman to the historical events was potentially a win. There was so much potential, but the outcome was something that would make me quit the spy business. Maybe it was missing a great villain or even Taron Egerton. There were no cool gadgets or makeshift spy fun, all of which I was waiting for. Everyone fought with swords even though they had guns. It was sort of like a first pass of a script and it should have had a few more drafts at least.
The first Kingsman is about action filled spy shenanigans. It’s glorious and beautiful and makes you want to walk out and kick someone’s butt. But instead this prequel, this origin story, kicked mine. I love Matthew Vaughn and every actor showed up to their roles. Gemma Arterton and Dijmon Hounsou were spectacular as the Duke of Oxford’s assistants and fellow future spies. The oddest stand out was Rhys Ifans as Rasputin, who blew me away as the creepy weird creation that Vaughn fleshed out. Yet no one could save the story or the day in the end.
The King’s Man made me not want to choose Oxfords over Brogues. I didn’t want to join the club inside the tailor shop. I was glad the Kingsman were created, but I loved their older stuff, not their debut album. And in the end that’s it. Their current hits are the best. And their past should be left there and never disturbed again.
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Writer. Geek. Final Girl.