Film Reviews

”Falling Flat” – Film Review: The King’s Man

Daniel Evans

One of the final, and most anticipated, films of 2021, the latest instalment of The King’s Man series was recently released. Daniel Evans shares his thoughts.

The King’s Man was one of the most underwhelming films of the year. Seriously questionable dialogue, tired performances and a boring, predictable story will ensure that this film is quickly forgotten. On top of all of this is the greater issue of trivialising real history and the film’s inconsistent messaging, resulting in a tiresome mess with very few positives to take away.

This film could not be further from the first King’s Man film that came out in 2014. The first was a fresh take on the spy genre with a witty script and charming performances. The violence, while extreme, was clearly cartoonish, and its principle fight scenes were both entertaining and well-choreographed. The 2021 film could not be more different. The script is wince inducing in places and its cast, while undoubtedly talented, can barely force a passable performance from it.

I expect a far greater degree of sensitivity than this film shows

The King’s Man does not feel fresh. It is a tired effort at best and a totally haphazard one at worst. Gone is the sense of fun that surrounded the first outing, and the attempt to replace it with more dramatic fare is clearly not something Matthew Vaughn is capable of. Ham fisted musings on pacifism are rendered laughable by rapid and poorly explained character changes and an attempt to replicate the more bankable violence of the previous films.

The principle issue I had with this film was its handling of real history. I have absolutely no problem with finding humour in real horror or tweaking history to fit a dramatic narrative, but it must be done properly. The Death of Stalin is a brilliant example of a comedic take on seriously uncomfortable subject matter. When it comes to The First World War, I expect a far greater degree of sensitivity than this film shows.

Cartoonish set pieces are fine when the events depicted are fake, but when they are reconstructions of real-world events and tragedies greater care is needed. Some of the film’s fight scenes did not sit well with me, as I felt the horrors of the war were being trivialised for the sake of an entertaining action scene.

a tired, lazy attempt to cash in on the popularity of a franchise

I would not go as far as saying that there are any redeeming features to this film, but if there is one positive it is Rhys Ifans. He clearly throws himself into this film, and his exaggerated Rasputin is definitely a highlight and a vision of what the film could have been with more concise storytelling and scene construction. Sadly, I cannot praise many other elements and it appears that Matthew Vaughn is clearly a director who is in need of a check on his impulse to create over-long and boring set pieces.

I wouldn’t recommend that anyone see this film. It is over-long, predictable, haphazard and insensitive. It wastes its not inconsiderable acting talent on an atrocious script, and its fight scenes were tedious. The story is also lazy, with countless plot contrivances and convenient narrative leaps. The King’s Man feels like a tired, lazy attempt to cash in on the popularity of a franchise and the reputation of its cast, and I doubt we will be seeing the follow up that is so blatantly teased at the end.  


Daniel Evans

Featured image courtesy of Roey Ahram via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @kingsmanmovie via No changes were made to these images.

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