In the recent trend of spy movies, we have become inundated with serious plots, far too realistic villains, and dark tones. Kingsman: The Secret Service, subverts this trend, writes a hilarious little love letter to the spy genre’s of old, and dishes up a wickedly funny film that combines action, style, humor, and a level of self-acknowledgment to make a spy movie for the next generation.
Like all spy movies, Kingsman features a secret organization that trains special agents in order to fight evil in the world. What makes the Kingsman different is it pokes fun at these ideas, dives into the fashionable side, and makes an entire organization out of well-dressed and mannerly gentleman (and women). With a touch of Arthurian-lore, we find codename “Galahad” facing a failed mission that resulted in the death of a fellow agent. In meeting the widow of his fallen agent, he inadvertently sets up a future potential agent in his son. Years later, the boy, “Eggsy” grows into a ruffian, but manages to possess enough skill to become part of the training program for the Kingsman. As he trains, a malicious and over-the-top villain plans a horrendous attack on the world’s population.
Kingsman is quite bloated at times, and occasionally slow-paced. There are a lot of people to remember, plans that don’t exactly follow through, and moments that seem unnecessary. This is it’s biggest flaw, and while it does feel noticeably long, most of it is a thrill ride full of brilliant action sequences, amazing technology, and whip-smart dialogue.
Colin Firth leads the pack as Harry Hart,—“Galahad”—the suave and punctual agent who at first seems like a stick in the mud, but ends up being full of more moves than most spies these days. He is funny, talented, and contains enough heart to separate himself from the straight-laced spies like James Bond and Jason Bourne. Some people might have turned their heads when they first heard that Firth was the star, especially after his Oscar win, but he definitely steals the show in many scenes.
On the opposite side of the spectrum is Samuel L. Jackson, who plays (rather coincidentally) Valentine, an internet mogul who has amassed an enormous fortune and wants to use it to his dastardly advantage. He is hilariously over-the-top, a far-cry from the “real world” type villains we have seen who are concerned with realistic goals in global domination. He is bizarre, averse to the amount of violence he is willing to cause, and he is supported by a hench-woman with knives for legs. It’s awesomely outrageous, and more than once the movie acknowledges that this isn’t your average spy movie.
Kingsman also features a pretty interesting supporting cast full of fresh and familiar faces alike. Mark Strong and Michael Caine play Merlin and Arthur respectively, they are in charge of the organization and they both have their moments. Mark Hamill shows up for a bit, which is more of a surprise than it should be, and his presence feels more of a “oh look who it is” role than one of substance. The freshest face, Taron Egerton, plays Eggsy, the up and coming spy in training. He holds enough of a presence, and an uncanny resemblance to Firth, to carry this new franchise onward with his style, humor, and rough and tumble attitude. He is the new hero of the spy genre—someone at least a little relatable.
In the end, Kingsman: The Secret Service should appease anyone who wants a fun spy film that does not take itself too seriously. There are a few moments that will definitely take your breath away and leave you laughing and a little uncomfortable. The best part is that it hopefully sets itself up for a new franchise of spy films that allow the audience to have a less serious time watching secret agents save the world from megalomaniacs.