British director, screenwriter and producer Matthew Vaughn, who thus resisted the continuation of his films Kick-Ass a X-Men, has spent the last seven years with the Kingsman series.
We can easily call it a series or a franchise, because after number one Secret Service and two Golden circle their prequel First Mission is coming to theaters, and next year the three series The Blue Blood is set to close the development of the relationship between Eggsy and his mentor Harry Hart. The Statesman spin-off is also under development, which should introduce the fraternal American secret organization known from the Golden Circle. And as the headline scene of the First Mission suggests, the prequel series could continue.
She comes with completely new characters, unknown from previous films. We knew from them that the history of the secret spy organization Kingsman, disguised as a luxury custom tailoring salon based in London, dates back to the First World War. The first mission then shows us what circumstances and historical events led to the emergence of this independent intelligence service and who stood at its birth.
The film’s prologue takes us back to 1902, where a British noble family visited an internment camp in South Africa during the Boer War. The Pacific Duke of Oxford Orlando (Ralph Fiennes), as an envoy of the Red Cross, will suffer a tragic loss that will lead him to the idea of creating a force that could prevent such wars before they occur.
Twelve years later, together with his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson), who has been anxiously kept in isolation from the outside world on his estate since that tragic event, he is invited to accompany the Archduke and heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, Franz Ferdinand d’Este, on his journey to Sarajevo. Historical reality will cause them to become actors in history, facing the task of preventing the outbreak of the First World War.
Orlando receives information that Russian, German and English courts have infiltrated people who want to pit these empires against each other. Orlando, along with two members of his servants, Polly (Gemma Arterton) and Shola (Djimon Hounsou), go to the courts to uncover these counselors or whisperers of the then powerful, who are in fact part of the conspiracy of the world’s worst criminals, led by the mysterious Shepherd.
Matthew Vaughn and co-writer Karel Gajdusek work with historical reality here, based on comic books by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, similar to Quentin Tarantino in films Infamous pancharti or Nesputany Django. He grabs a spy adventure on historical reality, which shifts this reality to its alternative version. He intertwines well-known historical events and personalities with fictional and real characters, who try to manipulate them as in the case of the cousins of King George V, Emperor William II. and Tsar Nicholas II, played by one actor, Tom Hollander.
Historical purists may certainly argue that the depiction of real models does not correspond to reality and that they find themselves in places where they could not be, but this is part of a screenwriting license, in which this historical revision serves a particularly amusing function.
At the same time, however, Vaughn also seeks a more serious note, for example in the depiction of the father-son relationship. The idealistic Conrad wants to serve his homeland and go to war, which his father, who knows what it means to kill, tries to prevent through his connections. In the end, he fails and Conrad sets out on the battlefield of World War I.
The director depicts the events with all the rawness, fatality and emotional intensity of the war drama, so that he then moves from realistic trenches, where there is a sense of despair and fear, to the stylized exaggeration of espionage adventure.
This exaggeration has bizarre contours, for example in the introduction of the obscene Rasputin (Rhys Ifans) as an eternally horny and drunk mystic in the Russian court. His presence here will give rise to a dancing action fencing scene, but also to those that try the limits of good taste. This was already a problem in the Golden Circle duo, that the gags seemed exaggerated in an effort to make them extravagant. And even here there is an inconsistent work between the serious and the parody, which sometimes takes the form of vulgar.
The director cared about the action scenes and tries to make them special with visual ideas, such as a fencing match shot from the perspective of the cord. A dynamic camera helps him with this, the tricks are a bit weaker. Ralph Fiennes works naturally in them a year before the age of sixty, which was certainly helped by the training from the Bonds. His character looks the most plastic, because he encompasses positions ranging from a broken and scared father to an elegant gentleman who wields wit and fighting spirit.
The other characters are more figurines (Lenin) or don’t get as much space (Hanussen, the main negative Shepherd). Vaughn manages to cover historical events from the assassination of the heir to the throne to the US entry into World War I. But his mission suffers from trying to be a serious war and political drama, reflecting English history and a comedy with humor that may not suit everyone . And unfortunately, these two positions do not always meet organically.
Kingsman: First mission
- Genre: comic book adaptation
- Original name: The King’s Man
- Great Britain / USA, 2021
- Screenplay: Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman, Karl Gajdusek
- Režie: Matthew Vaughn
- Hrají: Ralph Fiennes, Gemma Arterton, Matthew Goode, Harris Dickinson, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Tom Hollander, Djimon Hounsou, Rhys Ifans, Daniel Brühl
- Distribution: Falcon
- Distribution premiere in the Czech Republic: 06. 01. 2022