Kingsman is another Mark Millar comic, and is once again directed by Matthew Vaughn. Once again? Well, yes. Remember Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2? Millar and Vaughn once again. And it shows…
Focused on Eggsy, a young man who desperately wants to do more with this life and more for his family, the film follows a 1960s style spy film plot that’s been brought kicking into the 21st Century with all the trappings that entails: realistic-ish gadgets, mixed martial arts, equal opportunities and a focus on contemporary issues that are affecting us in the world today. And there’s suits, lots of suits.
To be fair, I loved Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2. It had a somewhat realistic interpretation of what it would be like to have superheroes being real – or at least non-super powered heroes. The level of violence, the stupidity of the mentalities involved and the sheer brutality of both supposed heroes and villains show off just how surreal it would be (and is, in other cities – even if they’re not being beaten or beating others to a bloody pulp). It’s an acquired taste – and one that I can understand people don’t like.
Kingsman on the other hand is entirely different species. It’s the spy equivalent of Kick Ass but with a few differences. While they both do more than nod to their respective genres, Kingsman does stick to the spy genre a little more – which works fantastically well. Not only that, but Eggsy is a much more likable character than Dave – if only because he’s far more capable even from the get-go. Eggsy struggles on different fronts in his life, and doesn’t don a typical teenager mentality.
I don’t think I’ll be able to look at Colin Firth in the same way again, was my first thought when I left the cinema. This is a film that plays with a lot of expectations, from what you think a classic spy film should be to what can be accomplished while wearing a well-tailored suit and a pair of Oxfords.
Kingsman managed a fine balance between introspection and action, that I think the first Kick-Ass movie did better than the second. The restraint works well, allowing for the full impact of the film’s action scenes to be more fully realised, perhaps most beautifully illustrated in the film’s church scene. This moment of the film is one of its most brutal and the one that has left me questioning my perception of Colin Firth as an actor .
While I enjoyed watching the film, I was a bit uncomfortable with the treatment of its female characters. There was a sense of the one female Kingsman being reduced to a sidekick role, and there were at least two damsels. But Gazelle, with her lethal prosthetics, was a delight to watch as she sliced ass.
But I genuinely enjoyed watching Kingsman and I’m now left wondering what the comic is like, so I’ll be checking that out next. Overall: would definitely watch again.
One of the most striking things about the film is actually the relationship between Colin Firth’s character – Harry – and Eggsy. Harry is very suave and teaches Eggsy about things other than simple training. He acts as a mentor in more than a simple professional spy way. And when you see this spy fight, it’s far more dynamic and brilliantly paced than any fighting you see on James Bond or Jason Bourne.
There’s a lot made about British culture – which this captures beautifully as it deals with some of the nastier elements of class through looking at two extremes. The spy organisation is very much upper class, using the idea of the knights of the round for both codenames and roles, while Eggsy comes from a lower class background. This contentious class issue is illustrated at many different points in the film, but it never seems to get stale.
The film itself is brilliant. There’s bound to be bits where some people will really dislike, but it’s actually played really well. For every bit that’s Kick-Ass there’s 5 parts Bond. I’m really hoping this film gets a sequel, because it’s just that fantastic.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is out in UK cinemas now. Our reviewers bought their own tickets.