Review of Kingsman: The Secret Service

KingsmanReview of Kingsman: The Secret Service

Released in the United States: 13 February 2015

Rating: R

Run Time: 129 Minutes


Disclaimer: I fall hook, line, and sinker for spy movies, and if they are British spy movies, I am even more enamored.

While others bemoaned the genius of Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy, I reveled in the slow pace, waited with baited breath for the big reveal, the next clue, and watched for the red herrings. Above all, I love pulp noir and mysteries.  I also enjoy British mysteries the most, with the singular love affair I have with Robert B. Parker’s Spencer character. I have spent many a long week(s) in the summer, binge watching Midsomer Murders, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, and Poirot.

So, it is without wonder that I braved the crowds and the cold to go see Kingsman: The Secret Service this past Friday.

I’m not a fan of the director, Matthew Vaughen, but I enjoyed Kickass, just not his work with X-Men First Class. It could be the source material he completely discarded that soured my stomach, or it could’ve still been soured from X-Men Last Stand.

I’m not sure.

I digress. The story of Kingsman isn’t terribly inventive. It’s a sort of Cinderella, wrong-side-of-the-tracks story that is predictable in terms of how it goes along. My companion continued to make loads of Star Wars references because the story unfolded with the archetype of “the quest” and “the hero.”  What made this movie magic lay in the execution and the actors did so with gusto and flare. Perfect for an over the top spy movie and not entirely different from Skyfall, which tinkered (pardon the pun) with the spy movie formula. Skyfall became the highest grossing BOND film so tinkering with the formula has benefits.

So, despite the ordinary and well tread storyline, I enjoyed the telling of the story in Kingsman. I loved watching Colin Firth complete letting lose and kicking butt in the Kentucky church and in the much hyped bar scene (included in the movie trailer). I watched Firth in Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy and enjoyed his role—serious, committed, and disgusted with the system that had chewed him up emotionally.  It’s not easy to hold your own against Gary Oldman, Benedict Cumberbatch, and John Hurt. British legends on screen, but Firth managed to carve out a performance worth noting.

I also liked Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine. For no other purpose than he is not the typical bad guy. I was a little leery of seeing yet another black male presented as a villain, but Jackson’s Valentine is not just any ordinary hoodlum. Sure, he has a lisp, a physical deformity that is almost a perquisite for spy move bad guys, but his purpose is noble. He doesn’t give in to giving a monologue and he doesn’t overplay the campiness. It’s not entirely different from his role in Unbreakable.  Again, Jackson’s bad guy had a physical deformity, had a noble cause, and seemed completely at home with the prospect of reaching his goal—in this case finding modern day comic book heroes, even if it means murdering a few hundred—or thousand.

I have been in love with Mark Strong since Guy Ritchie’s Rock N Rolla. Not one of his most popular films, Rock N Rolla burned Mark Strong into my fangirl consciousness. His “Archie” and the accompanying “slap” solidified Strong as an actor capable of being both villain and average good guy with just enough heart, you want to save him from himself, his circumstance, and his situation. Like a low winter sun, Strong burns just bright enough to see the light, but not feel any warmth. His performance in Kickass was also noteworthy as is just about everything he appears, including those Jaguar-It’s good to be bad commercials. His role in Kingsman allowed him to shine as Merlin—a perfect role for an actor how can be both villainous and heroic as is the legend surrounding the magician, Merlin, in real life.

Above all, the film was united and tied together by newcomer, Taron Egerton. His ‘Eggsy’ is streetwise with a heart of gold. During the film’s climax, I wondered about the shift in Eggy, because it seemed sudden, fast, and a bit to awesome to be believed. I remThe embered thinking that we had left the realm of realistic spy movie, to BOND territory. Taron sold it as an actor. I watched him and then I believed him. Believed he used his gymnastic background to help him do the things he’d done. That he channeled all the training he received at Kingsman to do the amazing feats he demonstrated.

Fun. Witty. British. Fantastic fight scenes.

I really enjoyed Kingsman: The Secret Service.

I recommend  it to fans of action adventure, comic book to movie adaptation, and/or spy movies.

Have you seen Kingsman: The Secret Service?

What do you think about it?  Leave me some comments or tweet me your thoughts at @nicolegkurtz