Wow 3.5 readers. Europe is so fragile all it takes is one dead archduke to eff things up beyond repair.
BQB here with a review of this historical action movie.
I have to say it up front. This one is not as good as the other two in the series. For the uninitiated, the first two installments take place in modern times and follow British delinquent Eggsy (Taron Egerton) as spy Harry (Colin Firth) recruits him into a secret espionage organization and turns him from a wayward punk into one of Her Majesty’s top clandestine agents. Somehow, the films manage to combine zany, over the top slapstick comedy, globetrotting hijinx, action and yes, even heart as we see Eggsy confront his shortcomings to become a better man with the help of characters who urge him to put country over self.
Don’t get me wrong. This film is good and worth a watch. However, it is very serious, often times quite sad and generally lacks the humor that made the first two films great. While it explains how the Kingsman organization got its start, it is set during WW1 which, let’s face it, if you’ve been watching the news lately, humor and raging global conflict are two subjects that do not mix, so you can’t blame the producers for abandoning the yuk yuks altogether.
While I wonder if it wouldn’t have been a greater box office success for the studio to have gotten Egerton and his mates together for a third installment set in present day (history pics tend to not put butts into theater seats) I have to say it did educate me a lot about how WW1 broke out, albet in a comic book fashion. Did you know that Kaiser Wilhelm (Germany), King George (England) and Tsar Nicholas (Russia) were cousins? I did not know that. The movie suggests the Great War had its roots in the era when the boys would play fight war games under the disapproving eye of their granny-in-common Queen Victoria of England.
Anyway, the plot? Lord Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) was once an adventurous do-gooder, using his vast family fortune to intervene in war, to broker peace and deliver aid whenever possible. Alas, when his wife is shot during one such junket during The Boer War, he cloisters himself in his estate, vowing to shield his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) the only family member he has left, from harm.
Alas, when World War 1 breaks out, Orlando realizes he can’t stay on the sidelines anymore. Young Harris sees war as a chance to prove his mettle and find great honor, despite his father’s protestations that there’s nothing but pain and bloodshed and no greatness to be found. Rather than let Harris go it alone, Orlando braves the world again as father and son go on a whirlwind adventure, from Russia where they take on the villainous Rasputin to other Euro locales where history’s greatest baddies are conspiring to commit heinous deeds most foul.
Along the way, they found the King’s man organization, meeting out of a tailor shop, recruiting other “knights of the round table” and relying on the assistance of a vast network of domestic servants who overhear what their powerful bosses are up to and report the dirt back to Oxford’s housekeeper Polly (Gemma Areton) with backup from butler Shola (Djimon Hounsou).
STATUS: It’s a good film that I fear will probably be swept under the rug. Lots of action. Great special effects. You will learn a lot about history. Obviously, much license is taken with the facts but if you weed through the chaffe you’ll pick up some tidbits of info here and there. I’ve always found WW1 to be quite complicated and this film did a better job of explaining how it happened (if you can look behind the comic bookish bits and realize the real scoop.)
Alas, the movie’s downfall is it’s not funny like its predecessors. Understandable because again, watch the news as of late and you’ll find yourself not laughing, but it doesn’t quite fit with the other two hilarious films in the series. Quite good as a stand alone.