Lowdown: A secret Bond like British organisation saves the world from a villain trying to save the world evily.
The James Bond formula of secret agents running high velocity action escapades is familiar and often mimicked, yet it did not stop Kingsman: The Secret Service from having its own go. Kingsman’s not so secret weapon is its director, Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Kick-Ass) and his unique style. A style that brings an extra smile to a plot that doesn’t take itself as seriously, and renders action scenes in extreme (read: violent) comic book style.
The plot revolves around a secret British organisation called Kingsman that takes it upon itself to keep the world safe from big time nasty people. Like the lisping billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) who is looking to spend the billions he has been making from his very Google like company (did anybody else notice Google owner lookalikes have become a frequent choice for a villain?) in order to fulfil his evil goal. Which turns out to be saving the world, but let’s not get into fine detail here; for the purpose of our discussion I will settle with mentioning Valentine’s main tool for executing his evil plan is his female colleague Gazelle (Sofia Boutella). Hooray for feminism, even if it’s on the evil side!
Our very secret and very British organisation of Kingsman stands in the way of evil, though. Its leader (Michael Caine) hands the task of sniffing out what’s going on to a top grade agent, Harry (Colin Firth), whose agency secret code name is Galahad rather than 007 but who is a Bond for all other intents and purposes. While sniffing villains out, Harry is also grooming a new agent for Kingsman, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the son of a former agent that died saving Harry’s life. Eggsy needs to go through the loops of Kingsman selection and recruitment processes, but in the end you can rest assured this make do father and son team will prevail to save the world from evil.
So yeah, the plot has been seen before too many times, and yeah, there is nothing in the way of substance here. It’s all about style, both with its “the suit makes the man” fetish and its comic style portrayal of action (e.g., by playing with the frame rate). If you’re OK with watching people get sliced into pieces with ample precision then you will enjoy Kingsman: The Secret Service. It is, literally, bloody good – heads literally exploding to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory good.
There is an element of fantasy fulfilling in the scene where our Harry is under evil mind control and is thus forced to use his prowess to kill the entire congregation of a racist/bigoted/redneck church as it convenes for its service. Rest assured, that scene is full of explosive bodily dismemberment.
It is very hard not to enjoy Kingsman: The Secret Service; this one is a movie meant to be consumed with a smile by everybody other than those that will take the moral ground and claim it to be a manifestation of evil liberal values. On the other hand, it is exactly because I am a liberal that I have a problem accepting those traditional English values or the claims of the superiority of those clad with a suit. A suit is just the business person’s version of school/army uniform, a tool aimed at ensuring conformity and entrenching herd mentality (the exact reason why armies wear uniforms!).
That is the exact problem of Kingsman. It tries to be that cool, outside the box, version of James Bond. It isn’t; it is as mainstream as mainstream can be, which is perfectly fine as long as you will only regard it as a couple of hours of entertainment and not some sort of a cultural milestone.
In other words, 3 out of 5 silly crabs.