Ralph Fiennes stars in The King’s Man, a prequel to the successful Kingsman franchise.

Any trailer that features Rhys Ifans chewing up the scenery as the mad, mystic Rasputin is going to be a winner, and that’s just what we get in the final trailer for The King’s Man, Director Matthew Vaughn’s prequel film to his successful Kingsman franchise. It was originally meant to be released on November 15, 2019, then rescheduled for February 14, 2020, before 20th Century Studios moved the film to its current release date: September 18, 2020.

(Spoilers for first two Kingsman films below.)

As I wrote when the first trailer dropped last fall, the Kingsman franchise is based on the Marvel comic series The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, which spawned two very successful action/comedy spy films. In the first film, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the young son of a deceased Kingsman agent, is recruited to follow in his father’s footsteps by Harry Hart (Colin Firth), aka Galahad. (All the Kingsman agents take on the monikers of the Knights of the Round Table.)

The agency is looking for a new Lancelot, and Eggsy narrowly loses the job to Roxy (Sophie Cookson). But he gets another chance when a second agent is lost in the line of duty, and he joins up with Roxy and Merlin (Mark Strong) to foil a nefarious plot by tech entrepreneur Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson).

Kingsman: The Secret Service grossed more than $400 million worldwide when it debuted in 2014, earning praise for its deft comic touches and hyper-stylized action sequences. Eggsy was back for Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017), this time teaming up with the agency’s American counterparts, Statesman, to overthrow a drug cartel. It didn’t have quite the same magic as the original, garnering mixed reviews, but it still grossed $410 million worldwide, pretty much guaranteeing more installments. Vaughn purportedly shot the third film in the franchise (a sequel to The Golden Circle) at the same time as the prequel, with Firth and Egerton reprising their roles.

The prequel will explore the “bloody origins” of the very first independent intelligence agency. Per the official premise: “As a collection of history’s worst tyrants and criminal masterminds gather to plot a war to wipe out millions, one man must race against time to stop them.” Among those tyrants is Grigori Rasputin (Rhys Ifans). Historically, Rasputin was a mystic who gained considerable influence in the court of Tsar Nicholas II, only to be assassinated by a conspiring group of nobles in 1916. Legend has it that it took several attempts to finally kill him, so he should make for an excellent villain.

The all-star cast also includes Ralph Fiennes as the Duke of Oxford, Charles Dance (aka Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones) as Field Marshal Haig, Gemma Arterton as Polly, Matthew Goode as Tristan, Djimon Hounsou as Shola, Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Unwin, Stanley Tucci, and Harris Dickinson as Conrad. Tom Hollander gets to play three roles: George V, Wilhelm II, and Nicholas II.

Last fall, I noted that the first trailer “was conspicuously lacking in the dark humor that made its predecessors so broadly appealing,” although it certainly had plenty of Vaughn’s trademark hyper-stylized action sequences. This latest trailer has a bit more of a subdued humorous spark, opening with Rasputin calling a meeting of his secret cabal. His nefarious plan is to start a world war in which “nations will slaughter each other while we get rich.” That’s the mad mystic’s idea of a corking good time.

We get a few scenes of escalating mayhem, as Rasputin blows up a ship, and a bystander lobs a grenade into a motorcade—the car just behind the Duke of Oxford. War breaks out, much to the chagrin of young Conrad, who complains to the Duke, “You cannot keep me locked away as the world burns.” That’s when the Duke introduces Conrad to his secret society. “We are the first independent intelligence agency,” he intones. “Refined, but brutal. Civilized, but merciless.” They’ll need to train hard to take on Rasputin, who is remarkably spry and in fine fighting fettle.

The King’s Man is currently slated to hit theaters September 18, 2020 (as always, coronavirus willing).

Listing image by YouTube/20th Century Studios

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