Kingsman: The Secret Service is a 2015 action-adventure spy comedy film directed by Matthew Vaughn and starring Colin Firth, Taron Edgerton, Samuel L. Jackson, and Mark Strong. It is based off the 2012 limited run comic book series The Secret Service by Mark Millar. This is the third time Vaughn has been involved in a Mark Millar adaption, and his second time directing one; Vaughn having directed the critically acclaimed superhero comedy Kick-Ass, as well as producing its disappointing sequel. Vaughn is also the executive producer on the upcoming superhero film Fantastic Four, helmed by Chronicle director Josh Trank and inspired by Millar’s run on the iconic superhero team. I rather enjoy Millar’s work and their film adaptions, as long as they are directed by Vaughn, so I am hoping this team-up of sorts continues on.
I have read The Secret Service, and despite the six issue series being disappointingly short, I enjoyed it very much. There are a lot of seemingly needless changes that were made between the comic and the film (standard operating procedure these days). Fortunately, these changes were needless because they were extremely inconsequential to the storyline. The film follows Eggsy, the street smart, foulmouthed son of a deceased Kingsman. The Kingsmen are an elite group of secret agents who operate out of a secret headquarters umderneath a tailor shop. Eggsy meets Harry, a Kingsman who’s life was saved when Eggsy’s father sacrificed himself. Harry owes Eggsy’s family, and also sees potential in the brilliant and talented Eggsy, held back by an abusive stepfather and other factors. Eggsy goes on a journey to become the next Kingsman.
Kingsman and the comic upon which it is based are love letters to the Moore-era Bond films. Samuel L. Jackson is a megalomanic millionaire with a lisp bent on culling humanity in the most hilariously ridiculous way possible. He also has an attractive female henchman with knives for legs… or something, I can’t really tell.
There are many overt references to 007 as well.
Part of me would call Kingsman a parody, but it doesn’t make fun of spy movies, it reveres them and the fun people had with them. Kingsman is to spy movies as Scream is to horror. They are self-aware to the fullest extent, and they are extremely entertaining because of it. Kingsman is hilarious, not because it says “the supervillian’s evil plan is stupid. Laugh at it!” It is hilarious because it doesn’t try to be a parody, if that makes sense. It doesn’t derive humor from the fact that Harry has a bulletproof knockout gun umbrella shield. It instead opts for the traditional approach to humor, something I greatly appreciated.
In terms of acting, I have to say I have no complaints. Mark Strong is great, Samuel L. Jackson pulls the villain off effortlessly, and newcomer Taron Edgerton is surprisingly very good and I hope to see him in more films. The real star, though, is Colin Firth. He is certainly the highlight of the film. I don’t think Firth, who was a strong contender to play 007 himself on more than one occasion, is acting when playing the upper crust bada** Harry Hart.
That’s another great thing about this movie. Matthew Vaughn’s hyper-stylized brand of action makes a triumphant return un Kingsman. The action sequences in this film are supremely entertaining. Sure, he speeds up the camera and resorts to CGI trickery when necessary, but you will not care. The three minute long church sequence set to Lynyrd Skynrd’s Free Bird is arguably a work of art.
Kingsman uses its talented cast, director, and writers to deliver one of the most shamelessly entertaining films of the year so far, and it came out the very beginning of February, at that! Perhaps that is why it was so financially successful, news which made me very happy. I am eagerly anticipating the sequel. Matthew Vaughn must return to direct this one, or I will end up severely disappointed.