“Kingsman: The Secret Service” is one of the most ridiculous action movies I’ve seen in a long time. It’s also one of the most satisfying. Adapted from Mark Millar’s comic, The Secret Service, Matthew Vaughn’s film is a strong homage to the pre-Daniel Craig James Bond films – with all their campiness and reckless abandon. And, although it isn’t actually as progressive as it aspires to be, what brings “Kingsman” into the modern era is its energetic pacing and superior fight scenes.
We begin with an intense confrontation with a terrorist. The lead Kingsman operative in the conflict is Harry Hart (Colin Firth), whose misfire causes the death of another Kingsman. Thus begins Harry’s long mission to repay his debt to Gary ‘Eggsy’ Urwin (Taron Edgerton), the son of his slain colleague. Eggsy grows into a troubled young man, which, given his mother’s dire state after the death of his father, is sadly inevitable. After a bravura car chase in which Eggsy wrecks a stolen vehicle, Harry steps in and invites Eggsy to train to become a Kingsman secret agent. All the while, tech billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) plots to turn the world into a killing machine in order to thin out the population for the good of the planet.
The action scenes in this film are truly breathtaking. With more cartoonish stylization than Sam Raimi’s “Spiderman” films, and certainly more blood than most action movies, they are so well-edited that we never lose sight of our hero, who he’s battling at any given moment, or a palpable sense of gleeful enjoyment. There’s an epic battle in a church in the film’s second act that could easily hold its own with the best action sequences of all time.
“Kingsman” isn’t just an action vehicle, though. Eggsy’s story is emotionally appealing because the people around him are much grimier villains than he is. He’s also genuinely kind to those who deserve it, including fellow Kingsman recruit Roxy (Sophie Cookson). But herein lies my biggest issue with the movie: Roxy is portrayed as incredibly skittish and has almost no lines, although she’s widely believed to be a better recruit than Eggsy and is integral to thwarting the villain. I could list many other examples of subtle (and outright) misogyny that are easy to spot in “Kingsman,” but revealing them would spoil a lot of moments towards the finale. So I’ll leave it for you to decide.
Also troubling are the movie’s political implications. Richmond Valentine’s (Jackson) eco-terrorism is laughably ridiculous, but because the movie is partly a spoof, that’s easy to forgive. But the consequences of its ending are so far-reaching that if the likely “Kingsman” franchise is to continue to attempt the same semi-realistic tone, it has to address its conclusion in a manner as satisfying as its fight scenes. Otherwise, a lot of this movie would end up being meaningless.
Regardless, Samuel L. Jackson is brilliant as Valentine. His lisp is self-effacing enough to be hysterically funny at points, but it isn’t so pronounced as to become annoying. And Sophia Boutella as ‘Gazelle’ – named for her dangerous prosthetic legs – is an awesome femme fatale.
Politics and plotlines aside, there is a whole lot of fun to be had with “Kingsman.” Just be prepared to abandon reality for two hours. But that can often be a good thing, especially when you’ve got Colin Firth offering great quips at a moment’s notice.
‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’
Napper rating= 3.5/5