The King's Man | Third Space

The King's Man

Going back the beginning of the well-groomed secret agency
Mon 3 Jan 2022

2 out 5 stars

The Kingsman franchise attempts to bring a new generation into the world of espionage by providing an agency that operates outside of governments. Despite being motivated to defend and protect the crown of England, their directive was to keep evil at bay in the world. Trained men and women are equipped to address the deadliest of situations with extreme force while not drawing too much attention to their actions. With this chapter, audiences are taken back to the beginnings of this organisation. This origin story answers many questions about the Kingsmen's wardrobe, manner, and inspiration.

At the beginning of the 20th century, Orlando (Ralph Fiennes) and Emily (Alexandra Maria Lara) Oxford took Red Cross supplies to secret camps around South Africa during the Boer War. As they attempt to deliver the aid, a tragedy occurs and the nobleman is left to raise his son, Conrad (Harris Dickinson), on his own. The Oxford men do their work to serve their country while avoiding war. Until a collection of history's worst evil masterminds gather to plot the demise of European influence in the world.

Even though Orlando promised his wife that he would not allow their son to go to war, he does eventually let Conrad participate in their estate’s secret agency. Instead of approving his son’s enlistment in the armed forces to serve during the Great War, the Duke of Oxford asks him to help with other actions. Specifically, to bring down the influential monk named Grigori Rasputin (Rhys Ifans), who has established his influence over the Russian Czar. With the assistance of Nanny Polly (Gemma Arterton) and his trusted valet Shola (Djimon Hounsou), this unassuming team helps in stabilising the political structure of the world and humanity.

Matthew Vaughn has been the driving force behind this collection of stories inspired by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ comic book series, The Secret Service. As the director, he has stayed true to the original vision of the series and this origin story does unpack the history behind the agency, but it does become two films within one. Conrad’s coming of age journey is overlaid with the need to rescue the world’s population, which causes varied climaxes that take this from compelling to disjointed. Since there are too many villains and even more allies to develop, this installation needed more time to effectively bring these two stories together.

Not to say that the cast does not deliver in their various roles, quite the contrary. Fiennes, Dickenson, Arterton and Hounsou were perfectly cast while some supporting cast struggled to keep up. The issue is that there are too many players to keep track of in the end and each additional narrative layer leads to more confusion within the multi-layered narrative. An aspect that leads to a conundrum as this film was not long enough to tell this story well while it was too long overall. There were so many wonderful characters, but The King’s Man could have been broken up into two films and there would have been enough for all to enjoy. While this mash-up crushed itself in the end and failed to serve its purpose of moving the franchise forward.

REEL DIALOGUE: Fathers and sons

'Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.' Psalm 127:3-5

One aspect of fatherhood that tends to get overlooked is that it is not only a responsibility, but it is a privilege. Orlando Oxford seems to appreciate this element, even though he overcompensates at times. He does manage to convey that his son is truly a blessing. Even though tensions fly over trivial aspects of life, these incidental things should not diminish their gift in our lives.

The Duke of Oxford proves that fathers need to look at this opportunity as an honour and do all that can be done to be the men our children need us to be. Some days are more complicated than others, but thankfully the Bible gives us the instruction manual to help to mould our children.

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" - Joshua 24:15