The film’s tone is less cheeky and more serious, especially in the first half, but Vaughn and co-screenwriter Karl Gajdusek have their cake and eat it too by doling out standard “Kingsman”-esque thrills in between heady conversations about non-violence, colonialism, and the horrors of war.
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But for all its faults, The King's Man is at least hilariously bad in the way that emotionless, made-by-committee blockbusters like Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker are not.
All the pleasures of The King’s Man find themselves inevitably undermined by its hollowness.
Those willing to embrace this entry’s greater thematic and stylistic ambitions will find much to savor, including the stirring lead performance by Ralph Fiennes. The actor not only manages to give a fully committed dramatic portrayal that doesn’t give a hint of the material’s underlying silliness, but also demonstrates that he could have been a terrific James Bond if given the chance.
The concept of a supervillain hellbent on Scottish independence is, admittedly, kind of funny (not to mention in keeping with the overall politics of the Kingsman films). But The King’s Man can’t figure out what to do with the idea, apart from having the largely unseen bad guy yell a lot in a Scottish accent. Like so much of the film, it’s trying to have it both ways—to be stupid and clever at the same time, and coming across mostly as the former.
The King's Man is a joyless prequel to Kingsman, devoid of the charming offbeat comedy and pulse-pounding action scenes that made this franchise fun.
Like a great big playful un-neutered pitbull, Matthew Vaughn’s new Kingsman movie comes crashing into our cinematic lives this Christmas, overturning the furniture and frantically humping everyone’s leg before rolling over on the carpet for you to tickle its tummy or anything else that comes to hand.
Trashy, deliberately and provocatively fun, The King's Man does for spy movies what The Suicide Squad did for superheroes.
So no, The King’s Man doesn’t take itself especially seriously – until it suddenly, jarringly does.
The King’s Man’s triumphant action and epic performances are dragged down by a confused story and overlong runtime.