The King’s Man (2021)

The King’s Man is a 2021 spy action film directed by Matthew Vaughn from a screenplay by Vaughn and Karl Gajdusek and a story by Vaughn. The third instalment in the British Kingsman film series, which is based on the comic book The Secret Service (later retitled to Kingsman) by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, it is a prequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) and Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017).

  • Ralph Fiennes as Orlando Oxford, Duke of Oxford / Arthur: An aristocrat and spy network leader.
  • Gemma Arterton as Polly Watkins / Galahad: A maid and member of Orlando’s spy network.
  • Djimon Hounsou as Shola / Merlin: A butler and member of Orlando’s spy network.
  • Rhys Ifans as Grigori Rasputin: The Tsar’s personal physician and also agent and second-in-command of the Shepherd.
  • Harris Dickinson as Conrad Oxford: Orlando’s son, who switches places with a soldier to fight in the Great War against his father’s wishes.
    • Alexander Shaw as young Conrad Oxford
  • Matthew Goode as Captain Maximilian “Max” Morton / The Shepherd: A shepherd and British Army officer seeking Scottish independence, the leader of a plot to pit the German, Russian, and British empires against each other.
  • Tom Hollander as King George / Percival, Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas, the respective rulers of Britain, Germany and Russia.
  • Daniel Brühl as Erik Jan Hanussen: An occultist and the Shepherd’s third-in-command.
  • Charles Dance as Herbert, Lord Kitchener: The Irish-born British Secretary of State for War.
  • Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Lance Corporal Archie Reid / Lancelot: A soldier with whom Conrad switches places.
  • Joel Basman as Gavrilo Princip: A student and assassin working for the Shepherd.
  • Valerie Pachner as Mata Hari: An agent of the Shepherd and seducer of Woodrow Wilson.
  • Alexandra Maria Lara as Emily Oxford: Orlando’s deceased wife and Conrad’s mother.
  • Olivier Richters as Huge Machinery Shack Guard (H.M.S.G.): An agent of the Shepherd.
  • Todd Boyce as Alfred DuPont: An American industrialist and agent of the Shepherd.
  • Aaron Vodovoz as Prince Felix Yusupov: A Russian aristocrat and cousin of Conrad.
  • Ron Cook as Archduke Franz Ferdinand: The Austrian Archduke.
  • Stanley Tucci as U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. / Bedivere.
  • Branka Katić as Empress Alexandra Feodorovna: The Russian empress consort.
  • August Diehl as Vladimir Lenin: A Russian revolutionary and the head of government in Soviet Russia.
  • Ian Kelly as Woodrow Wilson: The President of the United States
  • David Kross as Adolf Hitler: An assassin recruited by Hanussen.

One man must race against time to stop history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds from starting a war and wiping out millions of people.

  • Rating: R (Some Sexual Material | Language | Strong / Bloody Violence)
  • Genre: Comedy, Action, Adventure
  • Original Language: English
  • Director: Matthew Vaughn
  • Producer: Matthew Vaughn, David Reid, Adam Bohling
  • Writer: Matthew Vaughn, Karl Gajdusek
  • Release Date (Theaters): Dec 22, 2021  Wide
  • Release Date (Streaming): Feb 18, 2022
  • Box Office (Gross USA): $37.2M
  • Runtime: 2h 11m
  • Distributor: 20th Century Studios

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 42% based on 174 reviews, with an average rating of 5.1/10.

On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 44 out of 100, based on 44 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.

Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “B+” on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported 77% of audience members gave it a positive score, with 60% saying they would definitely recommend it.

Afterwards I had to check if, for example, Mata Hari seduced US president Woodrow Wilson. This did-it-happen? question holds the interest throughout what is otherwise just another well-made, well-acted spy caper. Full Review | Original Score: 3/5

Stephen Romei – The Australian

Tonally and thematically The King’s Man is all over the place, in a way that lays bare the cynicism of Vaughn’s own mission: to appear transgressive yet reassuringly conventional. Full Review | Original Score: 1/5

Jake Wilson – The Age (Australia)

The tone lurches awkwardly from sweeping colonial melodrama to grim battle epic, camp, pseudo-Bond caper and crass, unfunny farce. Full Review | Original Score: 2/5

Simran Hans – Observer (UK)

It is downright diabolical for Vaughn to make audiences even imagine a sequel to this unnecessary prequel simply to see if can be as outlandish as promised. Full Review

Mark Olsen – Los Angeles Times

As either a 007-inspired spy film or a comic book adventure, The King’s Man feels stale. Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4

James Berardinelli – ReelViews

Part satire, part adventure, this prequel fails at both… Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/4

Richard Roeper – Chicago Sun-Times

For the most part, though, the film has such a sloppy but fun narrative that one imagines the expansive cast… Full Review

Adam Mullins-Khatib – Chicago Reader

Fiennes is as charming as ever. But it’s also hard not to wish he had a better movie than this to exhibit both his singular charisma and combat skills. Full Review | Original Score: 2/4

Lindsey Bahr – Associated Press

A dumb bit of fun, a revisionist history of WWI told in a nimble, comic-book style…. Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) is deliciously over-the-top, albeit in a pretty spectacular way. Full Review

Gary M. Kramer – Salon.com

Any movie that lists “Rasputin dance choreographer” in the credits deserves at least a look. Full Review

Jeannette Catsoulis – New York Times

A charismatic cast and occasionally entertaining piece of action choreography keep it from complete tedium, but this odd hybrid of war drama and patriotic action orgy never finds its groove. Full Review | Original Score: 2/4

Brian Tallerico – RogerEbert.com

A dreary knock-off in period costume that doubles as an embarrassing work of wish fulfillment for anyone who just wishes Bond could be more overtly royalist. Full Review

Jen Chaney – New York Magazine/Vulture

I honestly don’t see how The King’s Man isn’t the final nail in this series’ cinematic coffin. Full Review | Original Score: 0.5/4

Sara Michelle Fetters – MovieFreak.com

All the broad humor of the original film is gone, replaced by clunky and often tasteless gags, and the attempts to extract pathos from genuine tragedies vary from tacky to insulting. Full Review

Richard Whittaker – Austin Chronicle

History is just one big playpen for “The King’s Man,” but some games are less fun than others. Full Review | Original Score: 2/4

Mark Feeney – Boston Globe

It’s hard to quit the “Kingsman” series, though they’re seemingly trying to force us out. Full Review | Original Score: 2/4

Johnny Oleksinski – New York Post

Don’t let its handsome tailoring fool you; it’s a mess. Full Review | Original Score: D+

Adam Graham – Detroit News

Who could not give themselves over to a scene in which, as Rasputin, Rhys Ifans – the film’s lethal secret weapon – duels balletically with the heroes to the strains of the 1812 overture? Full Review | Original Score: 3/5

Donald Clarke – Irish Times

Fiennes is elegant and charming throughout “King’s Man,” unflappable in the face of perils that would flap anybody else, but his light touch often seems to be in the wrong movie. Full Review | Original Score: 2/4

Chris Hewitt – Minneapolis Star Tribune

While the loopy emphasis throughout on fine tailoring offers some amusement, as does the presence of some very feisty goats, this plays like a grudgingly completed job for hire for all involved. Full Review | Original Score: 1/5

Leslie Felperin – Financial Times

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