James Bond meets Kick-Ass is how I would best describe Kingsman: The Secret Service. The movie features suave British spies who are armed with quirky gadgets (such as poisonous pens, semi-automatic brollies and taser rings) along with a smattering of comedy and heaps of brutal action. Kingsman’s similarities to Kick-Ass should come as no surprise given that both films share the same director (Matthew Vaughn) and both movies are based on a comic penned by graphic novel scribe Mark Millar. The question on everyone’s lips is whether Kingsman kicks ass or if it is painful to endure, like a kick to the gonads. Read on to find out.
In another movie Kingsman antagonist Richmond Valentine could have been classed as a good guy. He’s one of those trendy entrepreneurs who favour baseball caps and McDonalds over smart attire and Michelin star meals. How many villains do you know that abhor violence (bloodshed causes him to hurl, as he suffers from hemophobia) and lobby against global warming? Sounds like a stand up guy, until you learn that his plans for combating carbon emissions involve a mass cull of the human race. I suspected there was something sketchy about him. Why would a pacifist need the services of a secretary who slices up critics, with bladed prosthetic legs, after all?
MI5 and MI6 are too busy misplacing laptops, so it falls upon the Kingsman secret service to foil Valentine’s scheme. Veteran agent Harry Hart (codename Galahad) is assigned to the case. At the same time viewers watch as unemployed chav Gary Unwin (nicknamed Eggsy) tries to transform his life by applying to the titular clandestine agency. There’s just one vacancy up for grabs and stiff competition for the spot, in the form of posh candidates that hail from a military background. Recruitment into the Kingsman ranks is not for the faint of heart. The process, dubbed the most dangerous job interview in the world, tests applicants by seeing how they perform in various scenarios – including skydives with no parachute and an assassination mission, were the target is a cute puppy!
My rating for Kingsman: The Secret Service is a five out of five. It’s an exceptional movie that boasts a great cast. Newcomer Taron Egerton does a fine job playing Eggsy the loyal, yet rough around the edges, underdog. Colin Firth steals the show in the role of gentleman spy Galahad. Based on this performance, if the James Bond franchise decides to reboot back to the less serious days of Roger Moore, I think Firth would make a great 007. Samuel L. Jackson on the other hand proves that he can be entertaining, without resorting to his trademark yells, in his portrayal of Valentine. The star-studded lineup also includes Sir Michael Caine, who plays Kingsman leader Arthur, and a cameo appearance by Mark Hamill.
I think the movie appealed to me because the story has heart. One can’t help but root for Eggsy in his battle against the snooty toffs, who act like they are his superiors just because of their heritage. The mentor/pupil relationship that forms between Unwin and Hart is sweet. After growing up with an abusive step-dad it’s nice to see Eggsy bond with a more respectable father figure. Kingsman’s humour and action remind me a little of Kick-Ass, although Secret Service is more classy… possibly due to all the English accents. It was surprising how violent the action can get. The second act church slaughter reminded me of Kill Bill, but the carnage is so over the top that it comes across as cartoonish rather than gruesome.
Kingsman: The Secret Service proved to be a pleasant surprise. Based off the trailer, I didn’t expect to enjoy the movie quite as much as I did. Let’s hope the recently released sequel maintains the standard set by its predecessor. Have you seen either of the Kingsman movies? If so, what did you think of them? Let me know in the comments section below.