When Kingsman: The Secret Service was released in 2014, it turned out to be better than expected. A film made just so people could write praise and include the word “rollocking” as a positive adjective. The adventures of youth Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) and his mentor Harry Hart (Colin Firth) battling crazy tech mogul Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) with a mixture of gadgets and high-octane feats of physical prowess.
What the Kingsman series provided, is the post-modern take on the Austin Powers style of subverting the usual spy movie tropes. However, the way that modern spy movies feel is that they are constantly trying to out-do the movie equivalent of the “Spy Movie Tropes” Wikipedia article: The James Bond series. These tropes have gone through so many humourous subversions they’ve come back as dramatic storytelling tropes riding Daniel Craig’s cufflinks. The Bond series even had to specifically tackle these during the Craig era, and it was only until the Jason Bourne movies when blockbuster spy movies felt like they had original ways to explore plot.
Kingsman brought a comic sensibility to tell a dramatic story whilst commenting on the ideas that fiction brings to it. The sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle attempted to replicate the magic and expand the universe but failed to recapture some of the magic of the first film. Whilst the first film offered a global catastrophe and the sense of very high stakes, the sequel’s story of a virus outbreak felt overlong and a few too many twists that made it drag. It was a shame, as the expansion of the mythology lead to the world of the Kingsmen feel bigger.
This exploration of the world is the basis of Kingsman: The Great Game actually being a prequel and set during World War I. Released details suggest an uncast teenager called Conrad and a new character played by Ralph Fiennes. This gives Egerton a break from playing Eggsy and for the main franchise to take a step back and try to course correct from the mistakes from the sequel.
A prequel set in the early 20th Century sounds incredibly exciting. The Kingsman movies aren’t immune to the modern day overreliance on technology and communications that litters all modern day spy dramas now; so a film focusing on spies in the WWI era sounds as if it’ll offer a different kind of story. Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman are still the main creative team behind this, so the original intent and tone will still be there. But with the technological limitations of the time period, we could be in for some quite creative uses of early technology to battle whatever villain the film has.
Technology is a key theme in the plots of the previous films. The Secret Service used mobile networks to blow up the heads of world leaders whilst The Golden Circle used drones to spread a worldwide antidote. This gives the movie an opportunity for a different kind of plot than before, one that will no doubt be exciting. There’s the potential for a modern day spy movie with it’s own unique spin on the genre to be set in a period before the James Bond movies; and Ralph Fiennes feels as if he was already in the previous films; so it’s all a good fit.
The prequel can’t end up just being a rehash of the first film, at any rate.
Kingsman: The Great Game is due to be released 8 November 2019.