The News-Times

‘The King’s Man’ can’t find the right tone

- Photos and text from wire services

There are distinct pleasures to be had in watching Ralph Fiennes play the lead in an action franchise at this stage in his career.

For as fun as he is as erudite bon vivants, scoundrels and snobs, you always leave wanting more M. Gustav, more Laurence Laurentz, more Harry Hawkes. In that spirit, “The King’s Man,” a prequel to Matthew Vaughn’s irreverent “Kingsman” series, provides a definite service, and 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.

“The King’s Man,” which jumps back in time to World War I to the early days of the bespoke spy agency, is an improvemen­t to the last Kingsman movie, which among other deranged choices had Julianne Moore feed someone a burger made of human flesh that she ground and grilled herself. This one is decidedly quainter than that, but it’s still a Kingsman movie — manic, cheeky and vulgar— and it’s not going to sell anyone who wasn’t already on board. “The King’s Man” also has the uneasy tension of its real historical context which the film wants to use for both sincere emotional beats and fodder for irreverenc­e.

At a certain point, it becomes clear that not only is “The King’s Man” a tonal mess, it’s also just a set-up for a movie with an even more enticing cast that’ll leave you feeling even more conflicted.

But you have to admire a modern franchise that has an appreciati­on of bespoke tailoring as a core principle. If only “The Kingsman” movies didn’t also hold such juvenile humor in equally high esteem.

“The King’s Man,” a 20th Century Studios release in theaters Wednesday, is rated R by the Motion Picture Associatio­n of America for “some sexual material, language and strong/bloody violence.” Running time: 131 minutes.

 ?? Associated Press ?? This image released by 20th Century Studios shows Ralph Fiennes in a scene from “The King's Man.”
Associated Press This image released by 20th Century Studios shows Ralph Fiennes in a scene from “The King's Man.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States