There’s a scene mid-way though Kingsman: The Secret Service where one of our heroes and the movies baddie are discussing their mutual love of spy movies and lamenting they just aren’t as much fun as they used to be.
In many ways, Kingsman seems a response to that, upping the fun quotient for spy movies even as it ups the violence quotient as well. Make no mistake — this movie isn’t one for the faint of spirit or those who don’t like gratuitous swearing and violence. (It earns every bit of its R-rating). But if you’re willing to turn your brain off for the long running time of the film and just enjoy the world that director Matthew Vaughn is creating, there’s a lot of fun to be had.
The movie centers on a super secret spy organization run out of a UK gentleman’s clothing store. When one of the agents is killed in the line of duty, the group (who goes by code names from the Arthurian legend) a new group of initiates is sought out and put through a series of test to see if they are what it takes to the be the next Kingsman. The current Gallahad (played with considerable panache and charm by Colin Firth) chooses the son of a Kingsman killed in the line of duty years before. Unconventional and streetwise, Eggsy is probably the furthest thing from a gentleman but it’s his blend of street smarts and a willingness to try and better himself that helps him in his training.
It’s a good thing too because there’s a villain out there plotting to take over the world. The villain in question is played by Samuel L. Jackson, who steals just about every scene he’s in. The villain reminds you a bit of a blend of Bill Gates and Marc Zuckerberg gone horribly, horribly wrong and Jackson is clearly having a delightful time with every bit of eccentricity his character displays. As Firth and Jackson debate spy films, they note that the best spy movies aren’t those defined by the hero, but by the villain. In that, Kingsman succeeds in spades.
It’s helped by the fact that Jackson has one heck of a henchwoman — a lady who has steel legs that can be lethal weapons. The film sets its campy, over the top gory tone early when one of our heroes is literally cut in half by the legs of steel. (Think the cow scene from Under the Dome).
Kingsman juggles several plot threads with ease, moving between them all with relative ease until they all converge in the movie’s final reel. There’s a Tarrantino-esque level of violence here but that shouldn’t come as a shock when you realize this one is from the same director who gave us Kick-Ass.
Based on a comic book series by Mark Millar, Kingsman is an enjoyable, breezy way to spend a couple of hours. Watching it, I couldn’t help but think a series of movies in this universe could be fun. And that if anyone ever decides to do another movie based on the 60’s TV series The Avengers, Firth would make a heck of a choice to be the new John Steed.