Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) is directed by Matthew Vaughn and stars Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong and Micheal Caine. The film is based on the comic book of the same name, and is about an international spy agency with a gentlemanly trademark that recruits a promising, but brash and unrefined poor kid into their organisation.
I know, I know. Why aren’t I talking about the sequel instead? Well to be honest, I never got round to seeing the original! I have to pin it down to (what I perceived as) bad marketing. When the trailers and posters of this film were circulating, it made me cringe. It looked like the next big flop, boy was I wrong. I wish I had seen it sooner.
But there’s something about watching smug rich people’s heads exploding to the tune of classical music that leaves me grinning.
I absolutely had a blast with this movie. Which isn’t something I can say about any other recent film that I’ve seen in a long time, perhaps with the exception of Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). This has got to have been the most fun I’ve had preparing to review a film since I started this blog. The movie is an absolute riot. It took the bored and tired spy genre and flipped it on its head, making it a satire of sorts, but still very very original. Where other films may have attempted to do the same, but didn’t quite make the same impact such as Get Smart (2008), this movie had the balls to go all out. The R rating was well deserved, yet this must be the softest R I’ve seen in a while. The action looks like it’s taken straight out of a comic book movie ala Zack Snyder but more fun! Every time a fight broke out, I couldn’t help but get giddy with excitement. I’m so glad Mathew Vaughn may be on board for the Man of Steel sequel. Finally Superman may get the homecoming he rightfully deserves.
What makes this movie work is first and foremost how self aware it is. The film is aware it’s ridiculous and over the top, and boy does it relish in it. Where a lot of films force the audience to take it seriously, this one makes you leave your inhibitions at the door, and so…I really can’t make any criticisms of the plot, no matter how ludicrous it is. Because it’s done on purpose. How clever. The story is over the top, the characters are over the top, and the action is over the top. But there’s something about watching smug rich people’s heads exploding to the tune of classical music that leaves me grinning.
Let’s talk a little bit more about the characters. Brilliantly written, and all very likeable. The actors played their roles fantastically, and what could have been hammy and phoney turned into charming and endearing. Even the risky lisp that the villain had (a nod to the quirks of Bond villains of old no doubt) never grew annoying. The lead henchmen’s (or rather henchwoman’s) feature – another nod to classic bond villains could have come across as babyish and stupid, but was actually a pretty cool idea. If I can say something bad about the film, it’s that one of the characters motivations near the end of the movie makes no sense given their past reputation and personality. But I’m afraid I can’t add more to that without spoiling it.
The gadgets too, are nifty, fun and original. It’s been a long time since I played with toys or made pretend. But this film (once again harkening back to the campiness of the old Bond movies) made me wish I could have their cool gadgets. And I think when a movie succeeds in bringing out the inner child in even the most cynical viewer, then it’s a brilliant film.
I was surprised to see the philosophical commentary in this fun little comic book film too. The movie touches on themes of climate change, and the risk humanity faces. The end of the human race, of the destruction of the Earth – which would basically also mean the end of the human race. So either way, the climate change crisis means we’re all doomed. Wow. That got dark.
And I think when a movie succeeds in bringing out the inner child in even the most cynical viewer, then it’s a brilliant film.
But why I think this film was ultimately successful is how it took an ordinary, bottom of society character and in an instant made him extraordinary. And we got to go along for the journey. It’s the ultimate fantasy I suppose, the chance to drop your meagre life and chase whatever your imagination conjures. This movie is…dare I say it – The Princess Diaries, for boys.