REVIEW: Despite Ralph Fiennes, Rasputin and some goofy history lessons, ‘The King’s Man’ is not a must-see

Dec 22, 2021, 7:47 AM
Ralph Fiennes as Oxford in 20th Century Studios’ THE KING’S MAN. Photo Credit: Courtesy of 20th...
Ralph Fiennes as Oxford in 20th Century Studios’ THE KING’S MAN. Photo Credit: Courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

SALT LAKE CITY, UT — Not all comic book movies are created equal.  But not all comic book movies–or even comic books themselves–appeal to the same audience demographics, either.  The King’s Man, starring Ralph Fiennes and a prequel to a pair of comic book-based movies from 2014 and 2017, will definitely not have the cross-generational appeal as the OTHER comic book movie currently tearing up the box office.

But though it won’t break pandemic records in ticket sales, it does have a few quirky charms for those who have a taste for this kind movie.


The King’s Man tells the origin story of the fictional Kingsman intelligence agency (and is based on the comic book “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons). In World War I-era England, 17-year old Conrad Oxford has a taste for adventure and a desire to join his countrymen in battle.  But his father Orlando, the Duke of Oxford (Fiennes) and a known pacifist, is trying his best to fulfill a promise he made to his late wife to keep Conrad from harm.

When Oxford and Conrad initially prevent the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, they stumble into a global conspiracy that involves some of history’s most notorious characters from the first half of the 20th century: Gavrilo Princip, Mata Hari, and Rasputin, all led by the mysterious Shepherd.

The father and son team of Oxford and Conrad, along with Oxford’s bodyguard Shola (Djimon Hounsou) and his housekeeper Polly (Gemma Arterton), will have to get to the bottom of who is manipulating the rulers of Europe, cousins King George of England, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany and Tsar Nicholas of Russia (and all played by Tom Hollander) into war with each other, and why.


While I didn’t really like the first two entries in the Kingsman movie series, and this one didn’t swing me over to being a fan, The King’s Man did have some things I enjoyed.

The main strength it had going for it, in my opinion, was Ralph Fiennes in the lead.  The man oozes cool, aristocratic charm while also looking more than capable in the action scenes.  Though he played the role of James Bond’s agency head M in the Bond movies, this film shows he perhaps could have made a convincing 007 himself.

Another thing I liked was some creative cinematography from director Matthew Vaughn and director of photography Ben Davis.  From cameras that look down the blade of a sword in a sword fight, to some dizzying aerial shots as Oxford tries to jump out of a crashing biplane, little of The King’s Man was visually boring.

There was also a goofy undercurrent running throughout that (barely) kept it from falling completely into melodrama.  All the characters were certainly over-the-top, but no one more so than Rasputin (Rhys Ifans)–an oddly charismatic ballet-dancing, food-gorging, womanizing monster and monk who has the Tsar of Russia and his family under his control.  I found myself laughing during his big fight, but I wasn’t sure if that’s what director Matthew Vaughn was going for in that scene.

Finally, the movie was also weirdly historically accurate.  While Oxford, his crew and the main villain the Shepherd are certainly fictional, most of the other characters in the movie are actual figures from history, and the things that happen to these historical characters in the story, while dramatized for an action movie, also mostly happened in real life.  I actually looked up some of it after seeing the film and was surprised at how


The King’s Man is deservedly rated R for strong and bloody violence, language and some sexual material.  The run time is 2 hours and 11 minutes.  The movie is also wildly uneven at times, switching from goofy to serious and back again almost at random.  There are some unexpected plot twists, but some of them are also unwelcome, including the villain, Shepherd.  I thought he was very mysterious and actually pretty cool the way he worked behind the scenes until the big reveal and his ultimate fate.


Ultimately, the cool action moments and goofy fun were just not enough for me to recommend The King’s Man to anyone who’s not already a fan of the series.  The wildly uneven tone, creepy factor of some of the characters and gory violence were enough to make this a one-time viewing for me.  While it was less vulgar and gross than the first two movies, it was only marginally less so.

I give it TWO out of FOUR stars.


If you’d like to see The King’s Man, it is playing only in theaters.  There are no streaming options available as of yet.

Hopefully you & your family found this review helpful! Andy Farnsworth does a weekly “What To Watch” segment for the KSL 5 Today morning news show and also hosts the Fan Effect podcast for KSL NewsRadio. Check out his other in-depth reviews of movies and streaming TV series on

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Movie Reviews

Javon "Wanna" Walton (left) as Sam Cleary and Sylvester Stallone (right) as Joe Smith in SAMARITAN,...

REVIEW: Stallone’s ‘Samaritan’ stops short of superhero movie success

Sylvester Stallone's latest movie SAMARITAN sees him as a garbage man that a teenage neighbor believes to be a superhero in hiding. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says there are some cool moments that action and superhero movie fans will enjoy, but overall thinks it's good that the movie is only streaming on Prime Video and not in theaters.
1 month ago
(L to R) Thira ‘Aum’ Chutikul as Commander Kiet, Popetorn ‘Two’ Soonthornyanaku as Dr Karn,...

REVIEW: ‘Thirteen Lives’ movie dramatically tells real rescue story of Thai soccer team from flooded cave

In THIRTEEN LIVES, a true story-based movie on Amazon Prime about the rescue of a teenage soccer team from a flooded cave in Thailand, director Ron Howard manages to pull off the feat of balancing truth with drama without turning it into a documentary. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says it was an emotionally-engaging movie that showcases the triumph of human effort and spirit when we work together to solve a problem.
2 months ago
(L to R) B.J. Novak as Ben Manalowitz and Boyd Holbrook as Ty Shaw in VENGEANCE, directed and writt...

REVIEW: Dark comedy ‘Vengeance’ goes deeper than easy stereotypes for laughs in murder mystery movie

The death of a one-time fling draws B.J. Novak's writer/podcaster character Ben to West Texas to investigate and hopefully turn the story into a career-making podcast in Focus Features' VENGEANCE. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says this dark comedy has some great twists and very funny moments, while also going beyond stereotypes to create real characters.
2 months ago
Michael Cera as “Hank” and Samuel L. Jackson as “Jimbo” in Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank...

REVIEW: ‘Paws of Fury: The Legend of Hank’ remakes an adult comedy classic into an animated movie for modern-day kids

A kids animated movie based on the irreverent 1970's film BLAZING SADDLES? That's exactly what PAWS OF FURY: THE LEGEND OF HANK is, right down to having Mel Brooks voice a character. A friendly dog ventures to the land of cats to become a samurai, and finds himself protecting a village that doesn't even want him there. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says its got a great voice cast but keeping your expectations for the movie in check will help you enjoy it more.
2 months ago
The Gray Man (2022) Ryan Gosling as Six. Cr. Stanislav Honzik/Netflix © 2022...

REVIEW: ‘The Gray Man’ is a violent but fast-paced throwback to action/spy movies of the past, with Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling chasing each other around the globe

The new action thriller movie THE GRAY MAN, from AVENGERS ENDGAME directors Joe and Anthony Russo, sees Chris Evans' sadistic mercenary chasing Ryan Gosling's on-the-run CIA agent all around the globe to get back some stolen information. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says it's a love letter to spy and action movies of the past, and is very entertaining at times, though it is also quite violent.
2 months ago
(L-R): Natalie Portman as Mighty Thor and Chris Hemsworth as Thor in Marvel Studios' THOR: LOVE AND...

REVIEW: Portman, Bale help make ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ more than just another goofy adventure in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

THOR: LOVE AND THUNDER, the 29th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, sees Chris Hemsworth's Thor have to deal with his ex-girlfriend Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) using his formerly-destroyed mystical hammer and possessing his same power while trying to stop a villain who can kill gods. KSL's Andy Farnsworth says it's another goofy take on the character that has some very funny moments, but may not be to everyone's tastes.
3 months ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
REVIEW: Despite Ralph Fiennes, Rasputin and some goofy history lessons, ‘The King’s Man’ is not a must-see