Movie Review: “Kingsman: The Secret Service” – Superb

Written by Angela March 27, 2015

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Contemporary audiences are damn lucky to view the movies being released in today’s post-modern era. It’s true that the same stories will be inevitably told and retold with the passing of each new generation, but we Millennials are especially privileged as we have inherited a wealth of genre films to draw upon and subvert, more so than any other generation before us. This is part of the reason we get to watch and enjoy films like “Shaun of the Dead” or “Cabin in the Woods.” As far as deconstruction goes, we have been bestowed with a jackpot of genre tropes to examine and turn over as many times as we please. Matthew Vaughn’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is the latest entry in this developing trend, and is every bit as hip and meta as one would expect from a movie that plays with a genre as adamantly defined as the British Spy film.

Adapted from a comic book by Dave Gibbons and Mark Miller (which I know nothing about), “Kingsman” tells the tale of Eggsy Unwin’s (Taron Egerton) initiation into the secret Kingsman Organization. Acting as his Obi-Wan is Harry Hart, a deadly Guinness-sipping gentleman played by the indomitable Colin Firth (aka Mr. Darcy). More predictable casting follows with Michael Caine playing Chester, leader of the Kingsmen, and Samuel L. Jackson, or should I say, Jackthon, who impressively lisps his way through the film yet still maintains an psychotic persona as evil eco-terrorist Richmond Valentine. As for the villain’s right hand man, Sofia Boutella fits the bill nicely with her portrayal of Gazelle, a graceful amputee whose prosthetic legs double as razor-sharp weapons which are put to their best use during breakdancing. Our secondary lady character takes form as the Hermoine-esque Roxy (Sophie Cookson), who thankfully remains Eggsy’s equal rather than arm-candy as she too trains to be a Kingsman. This merciful benefaction to female audience members is just one of the many likable elements of the overall film.

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“Manners maketh man.”

Initially, “Kingsman” is tricky to pin down. Early scenes are comprised of what appears to be stock cliches (Eggsy has turned to a typical life of hooliganism after the death of his father) which are strangely interrupted when Colin Firth suddenly enters his life in an awesome wave of pressed suits and cartoonish violence. The beginning’s pacing is a bit choppy as it rushes to settle the foundation of the plot, but once the story takes momentum viewers will have been glad to make the investment. In keeping with the decidedly British convention of a young man being lifted from his mundane life to attend a strange new school, the plot of “Kingsman” sacrifices the comforts of a gradual build-up in order to balance Eggsy’s coming of age with Richmond Valentine’s evil-genius plans and the social commentary attached to them, or at least whatever commentary one can choose to interpret.

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Although this is technically an action/adventure film and in these a critical analysis isn’t exactly a necessary part of the viewing experience, I couldn’t help but appreciate Valentine’s sinister use of a technology that has been so extremely approbated by society: the internet. The most concise lesson I can draw from this is how volatile it’s presence in the world can really be when placed in hands of the ignorant and corrupt. Perhaps this is an obvious lesson, but still serves as a good reminder. After all, why watch a movie without taking something away from it?

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“I’m a Catholic whore, currently enjoying congress out of wedlock with my black Jewish boyfriend who works at a military abortion clinic. Hail Satan, and have a lovely afternoon madam.”

Infused with some tender moments and plenty of sharp British wit, “Kingsman” is so far one this year’s best surprises. As the action sequences grow grander in scale each after the other, so too does each scene wherein Eggsy matures from lowly street thug to the next, cheekier James Bond. Rather than delivering the infallible spy in the guise of the ideal man, the movie refreshes the very concept of “manliness” and repackages it as something a bit more relatable as our spy-hero starts from the bottom and works his way up. The entire plot is basically the most recent re-telling of the Fisher King myth, and, judging from the audience’s reaction in the the theatre, has the potential to successfully reinvigorate one’s enchantment with a world of heroes and adventure. “Kingsman” tells a story that will never go out of style, yet tells it in a style that has never been done before. Go forth and watch.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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About Angela

Angela McInnes is an English major and up-and-coming horror film aficionado. To her, happiness is a bottle of rum and a creature-feature on a Saturday night.

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