The name's man. Kingsman.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is directed by Matthew Vaughn and stars Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine, and Mark Hamill.
There is absolutely nothing about Kingsman: The Secret Service that would suggest it to be anything groundbreaking. Frankly, I declare it to be flat out impossible for one to not think up James Bond when the words "British spies" are meshed together, and "British spies" are exactly what come to mind with Kingsman. But if there is any sort of primary function that Kingsman: The Secret Service dishes up, it's that the action genre is still fully capable of being stylish, exciting, and loads of fun. Based on a comic book by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, Kingsman: The Secret Service was the project that director Matthew Vaughn decided to take up after dropping out as the director for X-Men: Days of Future Past, claiming that if he didn't direct Kingsman, someone else would come along and direct a fun spy movie. Vaughn has always loved James Bond movies, and he has described his vision for Kingsman as being similar to that of Steven Spileberg's vision with Raiders of The Lost Ark: taking a movie genre that you grew up with as a kid and reinventing it in a fresh, modern way.
The Kingsman are a group of secret, white, upper class English folks who carry out some of the world's most demanding spy work, without any oversight from the government. Colin Firth plays Galahad a.k.a Harry Hart, who makes a mistake while carrying out a mission in the Middle East, costing the life of Lee Unwin, one of the other Kingsman. Hart meets with Lee's widow Michelle to discuss Lee's death, giving her young son Gary "Eggsy" a Kingsman medal with an emergency contact number placed on the back. Seventeen years later, Eggsy has grown up and become a stereotypical chav, living with his mother and her abusive boyfriend. Eggsy is arrested one night after stealing a car, leading to Eggsy calling the number on the medal. Hart arrives, arranging for Eggsy's release. Hart explains the Kingsman organization to Eggsy, and tells him that a position is open after "Lancelot", another Kingsman member, was killed during a rescue mission. Hart, feeling he is indebted to Eggsy's father, takes up Eggsy as his candidate. Eggsy goes through rigorous training alongside the other Kingsman candidates, while Hart begins to investigate billionaire tech genius Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), whose company announces the debut of a brand new SIM card that people can use for free cellphone and Internet activity for life.
Imagine James Bond with more humorous scenarios and a villain that is too difficult to take seriously. Kingsman: The Secret Service goes for that kind of approach, and one that it takes head-on with absolutely no hesitation. But it's not that Kingsman is funny simply because Eggsy and the other Kingsman crack jokes and one liners when the situation calls for jokes and one liners. It's that the film presents you with various moments that are integral to the plot, and those moments are so in line with the characters' personalities and presented in such a gleefully over-the-top fashion that you can't help but laugh. There is one scene that involves the heads of various people exploding at the same time, and the exploding heads launch off a series of colorful fireworks, all being accompanied by some classical music. And without spoiling too much, it is a scene that is crucial to progressing the plot forward.
- Strictly from an action standpoint, Kingsman: The Secret Service is easily one of the best films to come out in the past 5-10 years. Everything is always in the center of the frame, with fights being vivid about limbs getting cut off, though remaining light on the amount of blood spilled. No action scene in the film tops the massacre taking place in a Church, which happens while Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird plays in the background. No fist fight or shootout overstays its welcome, and they're almost always accompanied with a funny remark or moment to remind you that the movie isn't being completely serious with itself. All of it amounts to a truckload of fun that is sure to slap a silly smile onto your face.
- Samuel L. Jackson plays a goofy Richmond Valentine, who shows a noticeable lisp. Valentine was originally not supposed to have a lisp, but Jackson did his first take with a lisp, explaining that he had a lisp before his acting career, eventually overcoming it. Valentine's lisp is a satirical take on how many of the famous James Bond villains suffer from some kind of physical difference or abnormality. Jackson is having the time of his life playing Valentine, especially because Jackson has mentioned how much he has always wanted to be in a James Bond film. He frequently wears a New York Yankees cap and makes frequent mentions of how he can't stand the sight of blood. Valentine is frequently smiling and going through with his dastardly plan with the morbid enthusiasm of a little kid who is joyfully defying the rules and restrictions placed by his/her parents. The way Jackson approaches his role matches perfectly with the tone of the entire film: having fun and enjoying every second of the ride.
- Kingsman's script makes no effort whatsoever to address the alarming political and economic issues that it unintentionally brings up. Valentine's sinister plot involves overpopulation and comparing the human race to a virus. I won't spoil the specifics of his plan, but let's just say it involves an unethical solution to a world problem. Eggsy, Hart, and the other Kingsman are never given an opportunity to share their thoughts on Valentine's plan, only seeking to stop him without bothering to understand where Valentine is coming from with his motivations. There's also an ongoing issue concerning the disappearance of various celebrities and world leaders, and it only makes the film's political and economic issues more maddening. Valentine's plan is something that a Bond villain would likely come up with, so there's that if you desire any specific Kingsman and Bond comparisons.
Issues with the script are easy to forgive, honestly, because Kingsman: The Secret Service is kinetic, stylish action that is too fun and humorous to detest. And with the kind of star cast that the movie boasts, it's hard to think that this movie could possibly be a failed experiment. Taron Egerton and Colin Firth are a memorable Kingsman duo, and Samuel L. Jackson is delightfully entertaining as the film's tech genius villain. There is not one notably dull moment in the film's 129 minutes, constantly moving along at a reasonable pace while maintaining its gleeful aura of fun. I'd bet money on Mr. Ian Fleming giving the Kingsman his approval if he was still alive today.
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