Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)


I never knew I needed to see Colin Firth as a dapper yet kickass spy. But now that I’ve seen Kingsman, I wonder why he’s wasting so much time making romantic comedies. This is truly where we need his talents. (Not that that will keep me from seeing Bridget Jones’s Baby. He’s still really great in rom-coms.)

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a spy movie, but not like any I’ve ever seen. It’s subversive and fun, a combination that sets it apart from its brethren. The story revolves around Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, a 20-something from the wrong side of the tracks. After getting bailed out of trouble by the gentlemanly Harry Hart (Firth), Eggsy is recruited as a potential member of the secretive spy organization known as Kingsman.

Don’t let this run of the mill setup fool you: this is not your parents’ spy movie. Kingsman skews younger, focusing on Eggsy (played by Taron Egerton) and his fellow recruits. Their youthful, action-packed performances balance the more serious world domination plot that the older cast members are dealing with. Besides Firth, the other stand out role is that of billionaire villain Richmond Valentine, played by Samuel L. Jackson. Most of Jackson’s roles have been men who are effortlessly cool. Valentine is the opposite. He’s a man who is “cool” because of his vast fortune, but strip him of his money and he’d be deemed a poser desperately clamoring for attention. Jackson’s performance is far more quirky than I’m used to seeing him, which made it such a joy to watch.

I also really loved the visual style of this movie. For a film that features a lot of violence, there is very little actual blood shown. Even the biggest action sequence– a chaotic melee staged inside a religious hate group’s church– is remarkably restrained in what it shows. Other key scenes hinging on violence forgo blood and gore completely in favor of a technicolor fireworks and smoke display that merely suggests what is happening without actually showing it. I liked this approach. Anything more would have felt out of place in the context of the wider story.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a smart spy film for the Millennial generation. It perfectly walks the line between fun and camp, with a visual style and soundtrack to match. I for one cannot wait for its upcoming sequel.

Rating: A

This film was such a surprise when it came out. Nearly everyone involved is playing someone so different from what we are used too. Colin Firth, better known as a leading man in rom-coms and dramas, does a complete one-eighty as a kick ass secret spy. He also knocks it out of the park, by the way. He is the highlight of the film, of which there are many.

Firth plays Harry Hart (AKA Galahad), a member of an MI6 knock off spy organisation known as the Kingsman. When a member is killed, he nominates the son of a former member, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), to join the club. Eggsy is a rough around the edges English lad, who is put up against a group of private school silver spooners, including a young hottie (Sophie Cookson), who also happens to be the only one who doesn’t treat him like a street rat. Eggsy must use his street smarts and bravery to ace his training and hopefully get accepted into the club. On the other side of the world, an eccentric billionaire (Samuel L. Jackson) is plotting to turn the world’s population into an army of mindless zombies intent on murdering each other. He believes that there are too many people in the world, and it needs to be cleansed in order for the remaining citizens to live happily ever after. The Kingsman, along with their potential new recruits, must stop this dastardly plot from occurring.

There is so much I love about this film. From the opening credits (played to Dire Straits “Money for Nothing”), to the climactic fight (played to “Give It Up” by KC and the Sunshine Band), this is a fun ride. Kingsman is yet another example that comic book films do not have to be kid friendly in order to be successful. (The more recent example of Deadpool also reinforces this.) I really loved the whole cast. Sam Jackson is particularly great as the megalomaniac who hates the sight of blood. I have gotten so used to seeing him play hardcore bad asses like Nick Fury, but it is fun to see him playing against type. He really does pull it off so well. Of course, the movie would not have worked with Taron Egerton. I think we expect a certain level of greatness from actors like Colin Firth or Sam Jackson, but it is unknown Egerton that really needed to leave his mark, and leave it he does. He is a perfect combination of cocky teenager and scared adolescent. He is the gem that this film uncovers.

There is so much here that is just cool. Sam Jackson’s head henchwoman has blades for legs, which she uses to great effect. Little things like this are just so much fun. There is also a cool little cameo from Luke Skywalker himself, Mark Hamill.

One of the reasons this film is so great has to be the directing of Matthew Vaughn. He has made a career out of being able to create comic book films with a harder edge to them. He is responsible for Kick-Ass and arguably the best X-Men film, First Class. I would love to see what Vaughn could do if handed the keys to a Marvel property, or something in the Star Wars universe. He is one of my favourite directors at the moment. Everything he has made recently has been stellar.

Kingsman is one of the most fun times I have had in a theatre for a long time. It combines great action, comedy and all of the actors perform so well, despite it being such a deviation from what we are used too from them. It really did come out of nowhere when it was released. There wasn’t much fanfare trumpeting its arrival, but strong word of mouth gave it legs, and I can see it certainly becoming a cult classic in the near future.

Rating: A-

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