Kingsman: The Secret Service

Film Review


Heather Gammon, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Loosely based on a comic written by Mark Millar, Kingsman: The Secret Service, serves to shock its audience with its raw violence and goofy plot. The premise rests upon Colin Firth as dapper spy Harry Hart, and his protégé Taron Egerton, Eggsy, who must confront Valentine (Samuel Jackson), a tech billionaire with murderous ideas about how to tackle climate change. The movie is over the top, satirical, cartoonish and insane from beginning to end.

Here are my main issues:

1.) The gratuitous violence
Violence, let’s face it, can be cleverly used as a cinematic tool. A tasteful kill shot here and there serves its purpose well. The opposite could be said for the graphic violence which was overplayed, overused, and thus ineffective in this movie. Violence was used almost as a crutch in this movie, making it a more focused on aspect than the plot itself. For example, there is a scene where a massacre seemed to go on and on… and on. The blood is there and in your face for about 5 minutes straight. This scene could have been more effective, had it (after making it clear what was going on) cut away to the results of the utter frenzy. I’m not usually squeamish, but after watching this movie, I felt a little nauseous.

2.) The ridiculous villain
Valentine, the tech billionaire villain, is a man who deeply cares about the environment. Yet he expresses this in a most unconventional way. After going through legal channels to remedy the carbon emission problem, he realizes the fruitlessness of it all. He then decides to eradicate all but the hand-picked elite of humanity by distributing free SIM cards programmed to trigger an aggressive killing frenzy worldwide, thereby solving the climate-change crisis. How logical. Doesn’t this sound a little far-fetched? If it does, you’re not alone. I was shaking my head in skepticism when his outlandish plot was revealed. C’mon, isn’t it time for a villain to have a more realistic plan? But it was a creative idea, I’ll admit- instead of the usual villain’s goal of world domination, the twist of the villain trying to save the world (albeit in a twisted way) was unexpected. Another gripe of mine was his lisp. It just didn’t seem to serve a purpose other than to make him more ridiculous as a villain. The only reason I can think of for its inclusion would be its juxtaposition with the British accents of the protagonists.

This film did, however, have some good moments:

1.) Strong female character
Played by Sophie Cookson, Roxy is one of the recruits competing for the vacant spy position at Kingsman. She can clearly hold her own in the male-dominated competition, and strikes up a platonic friendship with Eggsy. The two are fast friends and support each other in the hostile environment, most notably when they team together when one lacks a parachute while on a sky-high mission. Roxy and Eggsy become the final two competitors for the spy position (everyone else failed). In the end, Roxy wins out, having managed to do what Eggsy couldn’t in the final test and becomes the first female Kingsman agent. Spy movies are notorious for objectifying women, but Roxy shines as her own character. Roxy isn’t an accessory to any male – she is very much her own woman. She was also quite likable in that she wasn’t superhuman and wasn’t afraid to admit it; she had a fear of heights that she overcame with Eggsy’s help.

2.) The theme of “gentleman vs snob”
Class plays a key role in Kingsman, which hinges on the idea that a kid from the projects could assimilate into London’s most exclusive circles. And yet even in the upper echelon of society, Eggsy learns that there is a difference between being a snob and being a gentlemen. The former category includes most of Eggsy’s fellow Kingsman candidates. Their holier-more-expensive-than-thou act is downright jarring to both the audience and to Eggsy. But this very attitude will be the doom for these super spy applicants. Unlike his arrogant peers, Eggsy learns that there is more to being a gentleman than simply fine suits. Instead, he realizes that his mentor, Harrry Hart, was right: “Manners maketh man.” Eggsy has transformed from a rough-around-the-edges street thug to a polished super spy with the grace of an aristocrat. This bildungsroman transformation leaves the audience happy for Eggsy and gives him the strength to confront his “snobbish” and abusive stepfather(after saving the world, of course).

A pseudo satire spoof that pokes fun at traditional spy movies, Kingsman is a movie that, if you suspend your skepticism and have the stomach for relentless violence of the likes of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, could be fully enjoyed for its spectacular cast and their superb acting.

Running time: 2 hours, 8 minutes
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” is rated R for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content(Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian)