Kingsman: The Secret Service

| February 6, 2015

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that good movies do not come out in February.  That being said, Kingsman: The Secret Service, which opens on February 13 is awesome.  I know; I’m surprised too.  I managed to catch a free early screening of the movie last night at the Alamo Drafthouse here in Kalamazoo, and I had a blast.  First, let me say that the trailers for Kingsman do not do it justice.  The initial trailer made this look like any random teen action movie, maybe in the vein of The Hunger Games, but with a comedic twist.  The second trailer was fun and made me think that maybe this had potential, but even that didn’t prepare me for how fun the film was going to end up being.

The story is straight forward enough.  An elite group of spies known as the Kingsman (I’m pretty sure Kingsman is both singular and plural) have been protecting Great Britain for centuries.  Whenever one of their members dies, the remaining members nominate candidates to take his or her place.  The film centers around Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a street-wise kid who can’t seem to stay out of a fight.  His father was a Kingsman and this earns him the attention of Harry (Colin Firth; The King’s Speech), who nominates Eggsy as a future Kingsman.  While all this is going on, a mysterious plot to infiltrate important members of the human race and wreak havoc on the rest of us is being put into place by eccentric billionaire Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson; The Avengers).  Already, this feels like a lot to cram into one normal sized movie, but everything comes together pretty well and keeps the audience entertained throughout.

Taron Egerton does a fantastic job of carrying the bulk of this film on his own.  Transforming from street rat to smooth gentleman spy suits him very well.  His physicality, command of his accent, and remarkable comedic timing make him a very impressive hero for this story.  Colin Firth continues to demonstrate that he can do literally anything without any trouble at all.  His role here as a badass action hero, while maintaining his trademark stiff upper lip is completely perfect.  The relationship established between him and Eggsy as a father figure is obligatory but necessary and well executed.  Samuel L. Jackson brings a lot to the role with simple choices like speaking with a lisp.  This gives him an effeminate nature, but there’s something so inherently intimidating about Jackson that it doesn’t diminish his role as a great villain.  Mark Strong (The Imitation Game), Michael Caine (Interstellar), and Jack Davenport (Pirates of the Carribean) all have great roles with unique things to contribute to the overall film.

I think the biggest problem with this film’s marketing campaign is that every trailer/poster/mention for the film reminds us that it’s directed by Matthew Vaugn, who directed X-Men: First Class.  I have no problem with First Class, and actually think it was a very clever installment in the X-Men universe, but it shouldn’t be compared to Kingsman, which is a much darker, more brutal, more gruesome film than First Class.  I would more closely associate this film with Kick-Ass in terms of its style of blending action and dark comedy.  I particularly liked the action sequences, which ranged from grotesquely blunt in their brutality, to smooth and polished kung-fu sequences.  Movies tend to go one way or the other, and I tend to opt for smooth fight sequences with awesome choreography, but including both styles here made me appreciate all of the action that much more.

A good movie coming out in February is like a unicorn, and I know some of you don’t believe it’s possible it could exist, but if you’re looking for a fun, action-packed, old-fashioned spy homage, then you can’t go wrong with Kingsman.

About the Author:

Joe Sanders Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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