You know the old saying..." third time's the charm". Loosely translated it means try until you succeed. But when is the third time NOT the charm? When it is the third movie in a trilogy that seems almost completely disconnected from the other films in the group. Sadly, this seems to be the fate of last year's sequel/origin story, The King's Man.
In 2015 Director Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class) and writer Jane Goldman (X-Men: Days of Future Past) offered audiences a slightly different type of spy film with Kingsman: The Secret Service and followed it up two years later with Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Last year Vaughn, along with screenwriters Mark Millar (Jupiter's Legacy) and Karl Gajdusek (Oblivion) gave us a prequel story, The King's Man. Goldman was noticeably missing this time, and perhaps, therein lies the problem.
Orlando Oxford (Ralph Fiennes; The Harry Potter series) was with his wife and son in South Africa while working for the Red Cross during the second Boer War. When his wife is fatally shot by a sniper, Orlando promises to keep their son, Conrad (Harris Dickinson; Beach Rats) safe. Fast forward twelve years and it is becoming harder for Orlando to keep that promise, as World War I is just beginning, and Conrad is eager to serve. As Orlando and his team of secret spies dressed as everyday servants gather intel and decipher codes, an evil force looms in the background with his own agenda. A bright spot among the cast is Gemma Arterton (Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters). She navigates her role as Conrad's nanny/Orlando's spy network leader with grace and calmness.
"The Shepherd" has his own network of henchmen and each day he gets closer to realizing his plan of making the British pay for what they did to his beloved Scotland. However, Orlando discovers his remote hideout and fights him to the death. One year later, Orlando assembles a group of individuals at the Kingsman Tailor Shop and having given them all code names from King Arthur's legend, officially creates Kingsman: The Secret Service.
When the first film was released in 2015, it was categorized as action, adventure, comedy. Two years later Kingsman: The Golden Circle had the same designation. Neither film took itself too seriously and even with the action, audiences could tell there were tongue-in-cheek moments meant to make everyone chuckle. In comparison, The King's Man has the designations of Action, Adventure, and Thriller, and I don't think the latter one really applies all that well. Of course, missing is the Comedy and it is most sorely missed. Also, with an all-star cast, I would have expected more but the movie was simply flat.
While the upscaled 4K video is clean and sharp, it sometimes is a hindrance as green-screen effects look noticeably fake. The Dolby Atmos audio fares better here as it makes use of all the surround sound speakers. As bombs explode, gunshots ring out and Orlando finds himself in a pickle trying to jump out of an airplane, the sound effects assault the viewer from all different sides and often move across the room through the numerous speakers. The 4K combo pack offers the 4K and Blu-ray disks, digital download, and two hours of extras, broken into three parts. These segments are The King's Man: The Great Game Begins, No Man's Land: Silent Knife Fight Sequence Breakdown, and Remembrance and Finding Purpose.
As a stand-alone film, The King's Man is decent but doesn't stray far from other war/spy films. However, as part of the Kingsman franchise, it is ill-conceived, irrelevant, and unpleasantly unexpected. It doesn't have the same look and feel as the first two films and takes itself much too seriously.
I was disappointed and bored, and I am amazed that, even with the same director for all three movies, this one is mostly disconnected from the other two.