At one point in this film, Colin Firth and Samuel Jackson discuss their fondness for cheesy spy movies and James Bond films; commenting that they miss those movies, and when it comes to their current situation/story they say “This isn’t that kind of movie.” I think that quote is the best way one can summarize this split-sided spinning wheel of genre-gambling that Matthew Vaughn (director of “Kick-ass” and “X-men: First Class”) called “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” Much like his previous films, Vaughn once again uses a comic book for his cinema’s source. And while the other two had more recognition than this one, it’s clear there’s an attempt at creating a new franchise to milk for the next 10 years.
Is “Kingsman” the wild, crazy companion piece to the James Bond franchise it so blatantly satirizes? More importantly, is it any good? Let’s find out. Kingsmen are “Men in Black” style professional agents that operate under the highest discretion and utilize the most bizarre (but sophisticated) of weapons and imagery to carry out global ass-kicking against all kinds of threats across the globe. Tech genius Valentine (Samuel Jackson) has created a new deadly weapon that will put everyone in the world at risk. Harry Hart (Colin Firth) and the other Kingsmen recruit new youths to fill the gap left by a fallen comrade, the father of delinquent genius (and Harry’s candidate) Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton). Now the Kingsmen must train the youth until one is selected, and in enough time to stop Valentine’s mad plan and save the world…while looking good.
The best way I can describe what you can expect to see from this movie is that in this movie, you are going to see…things. “Kingsman” feels less like it’s creating its own image and more like it’s blending “Men in Black”, “James Bond”, “Kill Bill” and “X-Men: First Class” but failing to capture the memorability of any of those films. I didn’t know what to expect from this movie and after seeing it and thinking about it over and over again…I still don’t know what this was supposed to be. “Kingsman” doesn’t know what it wants to be or what side it’s trying to place itself on. On the one hand, it’s very professional and amusingly ironic to see such well-dressed men and women battle creeps and killers with stun gun umbrellas and poison pumping pens.
But on the other hand, it plays more like a hyper-Rated-R version of James Bond but trying to make you laugh at the violence and gore and be more satirical than serious or even sensible. For example, there’s a scene where people are being forced to kill each other and one man is showing slaughtering them in the most brutal ways while rock/country music is playing. Is that supposed to be funny? Is this being ironic or was this just a clearly stupid choice that doesn’t work? I feel like Jeff Garlin in the beginning of “Strange Wilderness”, asking Steven Zahn why he put Mariachi music to a man who is on fire: Why?
“Kingsman” is certainly entertaining and a wildly amusing spy flick that uses every bit of its crazy arsenal as seriously as possible; like exploding lighters and assassins with ice skating blade hooks for feet. We got a very professional cast of talented names like Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Mark Strong and the always enjoyable Samuel L. Jackson (the biggest high of the film if you ask me). However, what worked in “First Class” and “Kill Bill” doesn’t even close to matching up right in “Kingsman.” What Vaughn got right in those films, he got wrong in “Kingsman” and all of the unevenness of all of his films just seemed to collide and crap themselves out in this spy movie that is something else entirely…just don’t know what or if that means I need to see this again.
Along with a number of plot holes, an odd sense of humor and the already aforementioned frantic unevenness of the genre mixtures; “Kingsman” feels less like snappy satirizing and more like an amusing hiccup of flavors mixed without the proper delivery: it’s funny but the mixture isn’t enjoyable enough that I want a second blast.