A few weeks ago I was able to see an advanced screening of Kingsman: The Secret Service and I wrote about how much I loved it and how much I feel like EVERYONE needs to see it. I called that a “pre-review”, but this right here is the real deal. My full, official review of Kingsman: The Secret Service. Spoiler-free, of course…
First off, for those of you who don’t know, this is based on a comic book. In fact, it is based on a book written by Mark Millar who also wrote Kick-Ass (as well as several other great series). Kingsman is also directed by the same director who helmed the first Kick-Ass film, Matthew Vaughn. Additionally, you’ll know Vaughn from his fantastic work on X-men: First Class (the best X-Men film in my opinion) and the highly underrated/under-seen Layer Cake (seriously, find it and watch it). These two make a great team. With Millar’s outlandish, action-packed stories, and Vaughn’s ability to capture that on film without losing any of the heart, they’ve crafted their second incredible action film together. But do not mistake me, Kingsman is second in chronology only. It is in no way inferior to Kick-Ass, and in fact (time will tell) might even be and even BETTER film than it’s related-by-writer-only predecessor.
The film essentially is about Eggsy, a somewhat rebellious teenager, trying to navigate the terrain of life with an abusive step-father, a mother who can barely take care of herself, and no one looking out for him but him. He ends up getting into some pretty serious trouble and through a series of very lucky events he connects with Harry, a very mysterious, very classy gentleman who it just so happens is a British spy. Harry, or “Galahad” as he’s known to his spy organization, sees potential in Eggsy and brings him into the fold for spy-training. All the while, a super-rich and quite ostentatious real-life (well, not REAL-life) supervillain named Valentine is planning to unleash something horrible on the planet and it’s up to the Kingsman to stop him.
The film stars Colin Firth as Harry/Galahad and he is incredible. You know what… they’re all incredible. Every single actor in this film was amazing. Seeing Colin Firth as a (dare I say it?) action star… that was bizarre and yet makes absolute sense when you see it executed. Newcomer Taron Egerton flawlessly embodies the pretentious but clever Eggsy. He’s not a perfect kid, by any means, but he sees things in unique way and Egerton really makes you believe his embarrassment as well as his glory. Michael Caine shows up as the sitting leader of the Kingsman and he’s just so Michael Caine that you really can’t explain any other way how well he does what he does. Mark Strong (also from Kick-Ass) is in the film as well, playing Merlin, the Kingsman agent in charge of training. Honestly, it was just nice seeing him play something besides a villain. I was worried he was getting typecast there for a bit.
Probably the most exciting and refreshing performance came from Sam Jackson, who plays the aforementioned “supervillain” Valentine. The character is a genius with a lisp who also happens to be a billionaire. Yes, you read that correctly. Jackson just owns this role and, watching him, you feel like he genuinely had fun and enjoyed his time in the part. The way he delivers his lines is a work of comedic brilliance that I think a lot of people forget he’s good at.
The film plays like a satirical homage to all the old Bond films from the 60’s and 70’s. Colin Firth’s Galahad is a much classier (presumably STD-free) version of Sean Connery’s and Roger Moore’s Bond, and Eggsy is like a more foul-mouthed, street-smart version of Timothy Dalton’s Bond from the late 80’s. It’s is a work of art the way that Matthew Vaughn and his screenwriting partner, Jane Goldsmith, so perfectly adapted Mark Millar’s and Dave Gibbon’s Kinsgman story from the comics and saturated the already Bond-honoring plot with even more vintage spy-film tribute.
I also need to let all my fellow comic fans know that this is pretty drastically different than the comic series. Most of the character’s are all the same but their personalities are a little different and some of them are outright opposite from what they were in the book. None of the changes struck a sour note with me though. They felt seamless and well-developed. I was very impressed with how the production team handled it.
One character I’d like to make sure I praise is Gazelle, Valentine’s bodyguard, played by the viciously strong and beautiful Sofia Boutella. This is Sofia’s first high-profile film and if her performance is any indication, it will most certainly not be her last. Gazelle is a double foot-amputee and has… how do I explain this… ok, let me just show you…
Blades. She has long, dagger-like blades where her feet would be. Somewhere Lt.Dan is looking down at his metal legs and whispering in exasperation, “Are you f—ing kidding me…?”
Kingsman: The Secret Service is 100%, absolutely worth your time and money. It’s worth it all again the next day, and again in a couple weeks from now when one of your friends says, “Kingsman? I haven’t seen that yet.” You will immediately stop whatever unnecessary task you’re wasting time on, like cleaning the oven, or vacuuming out the couch, or feeding your newborn infant, because all of those things can wait the 2+ hours it’ll take you to watch the best movie you’ve seen in MONTHS (OK, maybe not ALL of them can wait. At least finish vacuuming out your couch you disgusting animal).
It’s Valentines Day weekend and I’m taking my wife to see this instead of 50 Shades of Please-Don’t-Put-That-There-Oh-My-God-What-Kind-Of-Person-Would-Do-That-To-Another-Human-Being because, while I do not believe in judging a book by it’s cover (get it!?) there is absolutely nothing in that movie that probably wasn’t done better when it came out in 2002 and was titled “Secretary”, starring James Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Christian Grey doesn’t have anything on Harry Hart. In fact he could probably stand to learn a few gentlemanly manners from Harry.
I’m gonna end with the same thing I ended my Kingsman “pre-review” article… This weekend, “vote with your dollars. Don’t let the terrorists win.”