Kingsman: The Secret Service

by | Feb 18, 2015 | 0 comments

Matthew Vaughn Brings a Quality Action Film and Makes Colin Firth an Action Star

It’s nice to have these kinds of surprises in the winter season of rubbish. Along with Paddington, the wide release of American Sniper, and now the surprising and bold Kingsman: The Secret Service it’s turning out to be a good winter season. Going in to see Kingsman, I expected the typical action-spy thriller with the high stakes, stunts, and evil villain, but I wasn’t expecting an artistically directed film with a perfect contemporary plot and courageously pushed comedy. Director Matthew Vaughn did it yet again with the help of veteran and rookie actors who pushed out of their comfort zones.

Kingsman is adapted from a comic series that was first published in 2011. The premise of the film is that of a young English troublemaker named Eggsy (Taron Egerton) who is recruited by a Kingsman agent named Galahad (Colin Firth). The Kingsman service is basically a continuation of King Arthur’s knights. They are an organization more secret and discreet than MI6, and their work goes largely unrewarded (Galahad’s office is covered with the front pages of newspapers the day after all his successful missions). Eggsy is tested and evaluated along with other recruits to fill a vacant spot of a murdered Kingsman. As Eggsy trains we find out that the assassination of the Kingsman agent is Silicon Valley billionaire Valentine’s (Samuel L. Jackson) fault. Valentine has an evil plan that actually ends up being less absurd and is worrying for most of the audience; it plays around with our ubiquitous smart phone usage and with the climate change problem. Valentine’s plan (if you don’t mind my revealing it) is that through his phone products he can trigger a violent and uncontrolled part of the human brain that would cause an unfiltered surge of violence. This evil plan would cause death and bloodshed, but it would also get rid of the problem of overpopulation, global warming, and even extinction animal species. As Valentine says: “Humans are like a virus. When you get a virus your body heats up, trying to kill the virus, and that’s what the earth is doing.” The smart line made me think of global warming in a way I hadn’t before. Now of course I’m not defending or rooting for Valentine and his plan at all, I would much rather cheer for an awesome fighting Colin Firth.

The genius of this film comes from director Matthew Vaughn. His film resume includes Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class, both really good films that also stood out from other action films for their boldness and originality. I admire Vaughn for being so risky with his films; in Kick-Ass he went on to mock the very genre that was becoming the highest grossing and most popular genre in the world. With First Class, he retook the decayed ­X-Men franchise (and a superhero film) and revived it by unerringly replacing the whole cast, making it a prequel, and mixing the historical, dramatic, and comedic genres. With Kingsman he avoids falling into the standard clichés, by riskily conducting his action sequences (one is a huge massacre in a church, another depicts a woman tearing down a door wanting to murder a child, exploding heads at a cocktail party that turn into fireworks) and he doesn’t shy away from adult humor (usually coated or avoided by action films that want to play it “safe”). His touches of auteur-ship are seen and faintly remind us of Tarantino with scenes such as the exploding heads one, which is tuned to “Pomp and Circumstance,” or with the snappy and extremely smart dialogues that seem out of place, but ground the characters’ humanity. But the greatest feat of all is that Vaughn avoids being predictable, some important characters die, which you don’t expect at all and there are some unseen betrayals. These surprises make us be on the edge of our seat, actually fearful for the stakes of our characters.

But having a great director only takes you so far; the spectacular cast was a big factor in attracting an audience and keeping their rapt attention. The star of the marketing campaign for the film was Colin Firth, but you would never expect Colin Firth to be an action star. Firth was known for his gentlemanlike roles in all his films from Love Actually to Pride and Prejudice and even in The King’s Speech. In Kingsman he plays a badass secret agent, but nevertheless the role is suited for him (that’s meant to be a pun). The Kingsman service is unique in that their agents dress in expensive suits and carry umbrellas, heavy rimmed glasses, and gold watches and rings. Firth fits perfectly into this agency, it was almost made for him. He succeeds not only by pulling his own stunts, but also by maintaining a cold and straight face throughout the entire film, smirking once or twice after some awesome stunt or another. If I may be so bold it was the first time that we’ve seen the wide range of Firth’s abilities, he had been enclosed previously to one type of character. We also have the more than worthy Taron Egerton, who plays the lead role and whose transformation from London lowlife to gentleman agent is extremely smooth. I hope to see more of him, be it in future Kingsman films or in other films. Finally, we have very notable contributions from supporting actors: Michael Cane and Mark Strong, who both are Kingsmen in the film. And of course we have Samuel L. Jackson, having the time of his life playing a villain with a lisp and cackling evilly.

The great chemistry in the cast along with the spectacular and bold directing from Matthew Vaughn make this a needed tribute to the 007 films that at the same time spawn a quality and enjoyable franchise.

  • OVERALL MOVIE RATING 80% 80%

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What is your favorite satire movie? Let me know in the comments section.

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