Monday, February 22, 2016

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Spoilers are marked.
I watched this movie using VidAngel, so thanks Daniel, for recommending it!

The spy genre gets the gleefully self-aware treatment when gentleman spy Harry aka, Galahad () recruits a trouble-making young man, Eggsy () to follow in his father's footsteps and train to become a spy for the Kingsman -- a very posh secret agency whose members go by knights of the round table code names, and save the world with graceful violence, in the best suits a tailor can cut, before nobly fading away again without receiving any thanks or recognition.

Kingsman is basically every spy-movie cliche made extreme and put into a film. On purpose. And it's great!

Act one takes its time and gives us a great introduction to said trouble-maker-soon-to-be-hero. Eggsy's father died saving Galahad's life, and Eggsy seems to have inherited that nobility. But his side of mischief is a double helping -- he's very light-fingered for one, plus has a careless, impulsive attitude and never considers anything before jumping straight into trouble for no real reason at all. He's the ideal kind of lead for this movie, exuding heaps of energy and charm with a matter-of-fact edgy side. Taron Egerton's breakout role, and no surprise; besides being quite the looker, his screen presence is sparkling, and effortlessly draws you in to care for this character. And the script gave a pleasantly unexpected amount of depth to Eggsy's troubles that together with Egerton's characterization and performance made for a very endearing hero very fast.

So when the second act starts and Eggsy must compete with a large bunch of Kingsman recruits who also happen to be mostly made up of total snobs, I was even more involved in the training than I was the real stuff once that really got going. This was the height of the movie's fun factor. I mean, putting a bunch of kids in a competition and asking us to root for the fish-out-of-water underdog isn't the most original thing ever, and not naturally conducive to being uniquely entertaining, but somehow it totally was. The tests they are given for training were all great fun, because they were the sort of cheesy, crazy things that old spy movies were incapable of doing, and newer movies with the right budget never do for fear of being unoriginal.

Kingsman didn't care about being unoriginal, because it made everything unoriginal feel original anyway!

The action was quite stylized in an unusual way and was used quite impressively. The best fight scene was the one in the pub near the beginning, where you can see the style play out the most. The choreography is top-notch, fun and exciting and everything the movie promises. The camera lets you see everything, not by staying still and just avoiding the dreaded shaky-cam, but by actually following the action in order to enhance it. It pans down along with someone being smashed into the floor, zooms in and out crazily and moves in unexpected twists and arcs, and it all works beautifully. Later it's toned back a little but the final battle still had plenty of coolness going for it.

The worst of the action comes along with a few other downfalls, right around the third acts beginning, when training is over, and the saving the world part starts up. It all starts at the quaint little church in Kentucky where Christians are represented as violent crazed extremists who in reality would be a cult. So I started out this scene with my eyebrow raised, and then the film began to fall apart and lose me on an artistic level as well. The length of the violence there is far, far, too long, not serving any purpose to the plot or to our entertainment. (Spoilers!) Then, it sets up Galahad for his death -- which I did like how they took the opportunity to have some fun thumbing their nose at the spy movie cliche, but the result of it was Galahad dying very anticlimactically, with, for me a least, a lot left wanting in his relationship with Eggsy. I'm not sure if or how they could have done it better, but sadly that was the beginning of a slight but noticeable downhill slope.

Quite a good cast. I never mention it, but is in it too. And . And !

The film evens out again for a while as 's agent Merlin takes over for Galahad as leader, and he, Eggsy, and Roxy () another new recruit take on 's lisping, queasy-stomached super villain intent on saving the Earth by destroying most of its inhabitants. They get into a bit of a groove -- Mark Strong does wonders for anything he's in -- but after a while it teeters downward again as you realize that most of the deeper meaning behind all the vibrancy and fun died with Galahad. Eggsy still needs to save his mother and baby sister along with the rest of the population, but there's no real urgency present. Not like when he and five other recruits were falling and one had a sabotaged parachute. That was urgent -- but that was in the second act.

Another cliche is smashed when Samuel L. Jackson's humanity-destroying device is actually set off, instead of being stopped just in time. The device causes people to want to kill each other, and that commences while Eggsy has the final showdown with Swords-For-Legs Girl () which was cool, but when he stands gloating over her dead body while millions of people kill each other and has to be reminded my Merlin to go turn it off -- that was the film's low point. Not right for his character either. (End of Spoilers.) I loved that they wanted to have fun turning the cliches around in such a fun, self-aware way. They even slyly broke the fourth wall two or three times with cheeky brilliance. But a film needs to have meaning, and by the end of Kingsman, they had forgotten and left behind most of the meaning they began with.

Waiter: "Would sir care for a drink?" Eggsy: "Martini. Gin, not vodka, obviously. Stirred for ten seconds while glancing at an unopened bottle of Vermouth." Brilliant.

Still, overall, Kingsman has more depth and more things to involve you than your average gleefully violent, casually profane R-rated action comedy. It has... manners. And what with such a charming lead, the refined, sophisticated, bitingly sharp humor, a plot that is deceptively basic, involving you by just plain being good, and the truly original and outstanding action, this is a breezy, fun and stylin' spy flick that deserves its place on the ultra-cool team.


  1. Hey Sarah! Nice review.
    I'm glad VidAngel is working for you, I know I have had marvelous success with myself but I find that some movies are still not worth watching even when filtered. because even though you don't hear the language or what ever you are filtering the tone still remains. But then again VidAngel has added so many movies to my watch-list that would not otherwise be there. And it 1$ movie rental is unbelievable.
    But aside from all that would you recommend Kingston?( I have not yet seen it) I don't watch many movie and ive got a lot on my list. If you were in my position how would prioritize it?
    Really I cant wait till Deadpool hits vidangel. I want to see that movie so bad. I wish there had been a GreenBand Version of the film.

    1. Thanks Daniel!

      Yeah, I'm liking it a lot! That's true though, even if it's cleaned up it's not necessarily a good movie. For Kingsman, it really depends on how much you want to filter, I'd say. I don't know what your standards are. We left in all the violence and most of the language when I watched it. If you wanted to cut the language there's gonna be a lot of muted bits which for me is more distracting and annoying than the actual swearing, and there's a lot of violence too. However, my main enjoyment came from the humor, which was all nice and clean. For what it's worth, I thought it was worth it. :)

      Deadpool being so unnecessarily dirty made me so mad that I'm actually considering never watching it and just sticking to the comics. But we'll see how that goes once I have the option! I just wish they'd made it cleaner in the first place.

    2. Very true about Deadpool but I wish it had flopped or something so I wouldn't want to see it so bad. :P but yah It being so Dirty was totally unnecessary. I mean really, violence does not bother me but language unless it is in a realistic setting(example lone survivor) is uncalled for and I really cant stand it.

    3. Yep. It's pretty selfish of me, but I have wished that too. :P In that case you'd probably hate all the swearing in Kingsman. I've never seen more unrealistic and pointless excessive language!

  2. Huh, never heard of VidAngel, but I looked them up just now. I'll have to look into that more later. Anyway, I just watched Kingsman myself a couple of days ago. Unfortunately, I had to sit through the some of the most pointless swearing I have heard in a movie. It felt incredibly forced. Other than that, I enjoyed the movie too!

    As a spy movie and Bond fan, this was a lot of fun. And where the movie lost me is directly after *spoilers* Gallahan was killed. And the firework head explosion scene is when the movie went too far with the silliness. However, your rating is basically the same as mine! It was a mostly great movie! :D


    1. It's pretty neat. Yeah, it was SO unnecessary! Most of it was just used as filler words too, completely and totally pointless. But yeah, besides that, the movie was quite fun. And I know! I was so into it up until that point and then it just started slipping away... and that was a bit too silly, but maybe better than the alternative...? Still overall I liked it a lot. Glad you did too! Looking forward to the sequel now! :D