Kingsman: The Secret Service has been out for a few weeks now, so I figured that I would share my thoughts on this movie. If you want a quick opinion: This movie is fun, violent, and very cool. It’s a love letter to old-school spy movies and is very aware of what it is, getting meta during the movie at times. I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a fun action movie, and there’s a scene in a church that is worth price of admission alone.
OK, so Spoilers for Kingsman: The Secret Service ahoy!
Kingsman: The Secret Service, directed by Matthew Vaughn, may have been perfectly cast. From Taron Egerton to Samuel L. Jackson, everyone did an exceptional job in the role they were given. Colin Firth was the perfect gentleman spy, being effortlessly threatening while at the same time lecturing some thugs about being polite. Michael Caine, even in his small role, was excellent, as always, and I do wish he got to play more parts where he gets nasty. His turn, after he realizes that Eggsy has switched the poisons, was fantastic and you can practically feel the venom that he’s spitting out. Mark Strong was great as Merlin and he is rapidly climbing my list of favorite actors. Every time he is in something he kills it. I knew Taron Egerton was a good choice because throughout the movie I kind of wanted to punch his face a little, and I realized that his character was supposed to be at least somewhat unlikable, being rough around the edges, so spot on casting there, too. And kudos for his acting job, I suppose. But the highlight as far as casting goes definitely is Mr. Samuel L. Jackson. He is superb as Valentine, upbeat and excited about his evil plot to save the world by having everyone kill each other. I really like it when Sam Jackson isn’t pigeonholed into being the yelling guy as he does have some great acting chops. He really was my favorite character in the film.
Kingsman was also very funny, which is important in a spy film such as this. Between Eggsy picking a pug as his companion (JB for Jack Bauer) to the princess offering up her bum to Eggsy if he saves the world, this movie was not short on laughs. Some laughs more juvenile than others, but that just means there’s something for everyone. Many recent spy movies have gone the gritty and realistic route, and I’m glad that this one did not go that way. I can appreciate any movie that chooses to blow up hundreds and hundreds of heads in multi-colored mushroom clouds! The good guys did that! It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and while some may see that as a bad thing, I definitely appreciate the levity in an already absurd premise. I mean, let’s not kid ourselves, a super spy like James Bond would be dead hundreds of times over, so leaning into the ridiculous is not a bad thing in my book.
Then there’s the action, and this movie had plenty of it. It was always exciting and many times very fun, whether it be Galahad knocking around some thugs in a bar, Eggsy leading the police on a wild chase, or getting shot at in a secret mountain lair, it was always excellently done. Also, Gazelle? Holy hell she was a great henchwoman. She was just the right amount of scary and sexy, and I appreciated that she felt like a three dimensional character, even if we didn’t get to know much about her. Her relationship with Valentine felt real and layered, and I really liked her presence. And her blade feet were just plain bad-ass and made for excellent fight sequences.
And finally, while talking about action, the scene in the church has to be mentioned. It. Was. Awesome. As I said before, worth the price of admission alone, the church scene was violent, excellently choreographed, and was just plain thrilling to watch. Not only exciting and somewhat shocking, but it was also pretty cathartic watching the Westboro dopplegangers rip each other to pieces. Seriously, watching Colin Firth take down one horrible prick after another while Free Bird blares was a joy to behold.
If I had one complaint about the movie it’s that it took a little long for Eggsy to actually get in on the action. It’s very much so an origin story for Eggsy and his training/audition process, while entertaining, was not nearly as interesting as Galahad trying to thwart Sam Jackson’s evil plan. It’s a small complaint, though, as his training was still entertaining and they did keep both plots going simultaneously so we still got Galahad facing down Valentine while Eggsy worked his way through test after test.
I really do hope that this movie does well enough that it gets a sequel. With James Bond trying his best to be Jason Bourne these days, we need a spy franchise that can bring some the levity, eccentric villains, and sci-fi spy tech while still being thrilling and visceral. Kingsman: The Secret Service is the best old-school spy movie to come out in years.
Manners maketh man.