The King’s Man (NC16)
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Harris Dickinson, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans,Djimon Hounsou
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
The closest Ralph Fiennes has ever been to playing James Bond or someone of his calibre was in 1998’s The Avengers, the painfully misguided big-screen version of the ’60s British TV spy series. That’s a long time ago. Now, he finally gets to renew his licence to thrill, proving that he’s just as good a Bond as he is as Bond’s boss in this exhilarating if sometimes bloated (but impossible to dislike) prequel to the Kingsman movies, again helmed by Mathew Vaughn. The origin story looks at how Fiennes’ pacificist Duke of Oxford started the eponymous independent intelligence agency to thwart a secret cabal — members include a showboating Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) — from triggering World War I (Spoiler: they fail.) The first half is an intoxicating puree of history-meets-fiction, some Downton Abbey-esque hijinks and the franchise’s signature hyper-realistic action (a bonkers ballet sword-fight, anyone?). But the playful tone is temporarily grounded by a secondary plot involving the Duke’s rebellious son (Harris Dickinson) before taking off again. Still, I’ll rather watch this than No Time to Die. Next stop: How about Fiennes reuniting with Liam Neeson in a buddy-cop thriller? Can you see that? (3/5 stars)
Photo: 20th Century Studios
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