“The King’s Man”

Evidently, I do movie reviews now? I suppose it’s somewhat in keeping with all the book reviews I’ve been doing, but as it’s a new thing I still feel the need to point out: I am not a professional reviewer, I just don’t want to make an account on… whatever website it is that people use to do movie reviews.

After having it in my queue for a while, I finally got around to watching The King’s Man. I absolutely love Kingsman, and while there’s still a good deal to enjoy in the sequel, it was nowhere near as good as the original. I was hoping the prequel, then, would be as good as the original. Sadly, it wasn’t.

Quite frankly, The King’s Man is bad. Not terrible, but absolutely not good. It’s campy, but I can’t tell if it’s campy in the “this will be a cult classic in a decade” way or just campy in the “we’re all going to forget about this” sense. Too early to tell on that regard.

The plot makes absolutely no sense. And, yes, I realize that I’m saying this about a prequel to a film that had “a SIM card makes you murder people” as the core of the plot, but at least that just required some hand-wavey science fiction. That’s the problem with trying to do a prequel—we know how history went. If you haven’t sat down and called it Alternate History as a genre, then when you start breaking the timeline, it gets really hard to suspend that disbelief.

Like Deadpool 2, it feels like they came up with a couple key scenes they wanted to have in the movie, and then had to figure out a way to string them together with some semblance of a plot. As a result, though, here I am, a day later, still trying to come up with a sensible explanation for why any of the Bad Guys were listening to the Big Bad. He’s just… some guy? Like, sure, I can believe some guy with a hatch to grind could pull together a few well-connected people with grievances to start this evil plot, but Rasputin just doesn’t fit. What’s Rasputin’s motivation for listening to you, dude? He’s the de-facto ruler of Russia, he’s got all the food, drink, drugs, sex, and power a man could want; why would he show up to your drafty Evil Meeting Place in the middle of nowhere together threatened by you into messing with his good thing he’s got going?1

That said, I still enjoyed watching it. I’m glad I missed it in the theater because the best way to watch this is somewhere that you can pause it to laugh in disbelief with your friends. It’s got some solid action scenes, and the cast is fun and does a good job of it all. The pacing is all over the place, the plot makes no sense, and there’s a serious change of tone for a bit in the middle, but so long as you don’t go in expecting something that’s gonna win awards, you’ll have a good time.2

  1. And, speaking of that drafty Evil Meeting Place: this movie is set prior to the invention of the jet plane. How, exactly, is Rasputin making it from Moscow to your undisclosed location on the other side of Europe for these meetings without it being commented on?
  2. The bit in the middle is probably even more effective if you haven’t seen Kingsman, or you have the kind of brain that doesn’t latch on to world building details like mine does. For me, it was predictable, and the tension was in wondering when that Canonical Event was going to happen; I suspect that scene feels very different if you go in without that foreknowledge.