Fortune Favours the Bold

The King’s Man

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Djimon Hounsou, Matthew Goode, Charles Dance, Daniel Bruhl, August Diehl, Alexandra Maria Lara, Tom Hollander, Alison Steadman, Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Film Rating: 7 out of 10

Running time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Topping the two previous Kingsman films, this highly anticipated prequel simply titled The King’s Man follows the adventures of Orlando Oxford, or the Duke of Oxford wonderfully played with a nuanced panache by Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List, The English Patient) as we track his valiant attempt to protect his son Conrad Oxford from harm.

The King’s Man fortunately is steeped in historical references and is set between 1902 and 1918. Director Matthew Vaughn places the story between the Anglo-Boer War in South Africa whereby the British were brutally confining Afrikaners in concentration camps to the outbreak of the 1st World War in Europe which was sparked off by the untimely assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914.

Orlando Oxford is ably assisted by Shola played by Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, In America) and Polly played by Gemma Arterton (The Quantum of Solace).

As World War I breaks out, the Duke’s son Conrad played by Harris Dickinson who was brilliant as the kidnapped J. Paul Getty III in Danny Boyle’s excellent TV series Trust, is desperate to fight in the front line. The Duke of Oxford in the meantime is trying to find a way of ending World War One, this atrociously bloody conflict as started by 3 first Cousins, all grandchildren of Queen Victoria: King George of Great Britain, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia all of whom are dexterously played by Tom Hollander (Gosford Park, Pride and Prejudice).

In a particularly bizarre scene at a Russian ball, The Duke of Oxford and his son battle the outrageous Grigori Rasputin expertly played with sinister flamboyance by Rhys Ifans (Notting Hill, Anonymous).

As the action shifts around the world and director Matthew Vaughn efficiently cuts through all the historical cobwebs to reignite the story of The King’s Man with some stylishly entertaining action scenes, it is Ralph Fiennes as the Duke of Oxford who becomes the action hero in a role which he clearly delighted in playing.

Audiences should look out for some great cameo roles, particularly veteran British actor Charles Dance (The Imitation Game, White Mischief) as Kitchener, Matthew Goode (Brideshead Revisited, A Single Man) as Morton and German actor Daniel Bruhl (Rush, Inglorious Basterds) as the shady Erik Jan Hanussen a malignant advisor to Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany.

Historically, The King’s Man is an intriguing action film, thoroughly entertaining and as a prequel it is sophisticated without taking itself too seriously.

If audiences enjoy a dazzling swashbuckler then The King’s Man which gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 and is far better than the other two Kings Men films Kingsman: The Secret Service and the outlandish Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

This time director Matthew Vaughn does this franchise justice and reiterates the motto that Manners Maketh Man.

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