Kingsman: The Secret Service has been called a spy movie spoof. It’s not that. Right from the get go, it’s clear that Kingsman is more like a spy movie on crack. The very first scene couple scenes involve more gratuitous violence than most films have at from start to finish, and it’s presented in the most insane fashion, like some sick choreographed art. Fingers being blown off, head shots in high volume and a woman with razor blades for legs. That was just the start.
If there is one thing that Kingsman: The Secret Service is, it’s fun. A lot of films can claim that they have high octane action and crazy stunts, but it takes more than that to make a good movie. Kingsman really hit the mark with its cast. Taron Egerton is the lead, as the young inner city London kid named Eggsy, who is talented but lacking motivation in a dead end home. He is clearly an acting talent who has got some big things ahead of him. His performance is great, and he doesn’t overdo it at all, which is something I was expecting to see to be honest. He’s charismatic and easy to root for throughout. Just check out the list of films he’s already signed up for as evidence of that.
Egerton is great, but the real star here is Colin Firth. Firth has got a ton of range as an actor, and while most people think of him in less action packed roles, he has done the spy thing before. But I am confident that nobody at all could have imagined how much of a bad ass he could be. He is the mentor who recruits young Eggsy to the Secret Service, and tries to teach him the ropes, as well as how to be a gentleman. He adds a ton of clever humor and credibility to the film, and his chemistry with Taron Egerton is great, as is his chemistry with the over the top uber-villain Valentine, played in unfortunately typical typecast fashion by Samuel L Jackson. The film does a lot right, and Jackson is good, but it almost feels like director Matthew Vaughn just took a lazy shortcut by casting him. It doesn’t take much creativity to cast Jackson as himself. It comes off alright, but for me it was a little disappointing. Michael Caine and Mark Strong are also involved, somewhat typecast themselves but fortunately their typecasting fits the proceedings a lot better. Strong in particular provides plenty of laughs as well, and doesn’t mind a little self deprecation.
In terms of plot, things are of course over the top and a little unbelievable, it’s also a unique and clever type of over the top. It’s fun, and while I won’t spoil it, just know that the plot provides the perfect engine for Vaughn’s violent madness. There are twists and turns around every corner, some obvious and some that are genuinely surprising. It’s good enough to keep the action flowing, and the action is what really drives the film. There a few moments of madness that are about as insane as any I’ve ever seen, one involving a church of hyper-religious, racist fanatics who feel more than God’s wrath. That’s one example of some political and social fun that pokes it’s way into the story, and if you’re looking for these they’ll give you a chuckle at times.
Kingsman: The Secret Service will absolutely not appeal to everyone. It’s violent, crude and silly and it doesn’t seem to care what people think of it. But if you are in the mood for some high octane entertainment then it might be your ticket. It has plenty of flaws, and doesn’t always hit it’s mark, but some strong young talent combined with a host of veteran actors make for a two hour head rush that will likely get a sequel.