“I’m a Catholic whore, currently enjoying congress out of wedlock with my black Jewish boyfriend who works at a military abortion clinic. So, hail Satan, and have a lovely afternoon, madam.” – Harry Hart, Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014).
I said a couple of days ago that The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) was my favourite film from that year. Well, I forgot about Kingsman: The Secret Service, which may be in my top three for that year. A Matthew Vaughn directed film all about the secret service simply known as Kingsman. Throughout the film, it’s more or less a mockery of the spy genre, and I completely love it. But can it be the perfect film? Well, not really, every film has its problems, and they’re certainly obvious throughout this film. Still, it’s enjoyable, and you should read on to find out why.
The plot finds Eggsy (Taron Egerton) being enlisted in the Kingsman branch by Harry Hart (Colin Firth). Merlin (Mark Strong) and Chester King (Michael Caine). While Eggsy is trained, it’s up to Hart to stop evil villain Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) and his wife Gazelle (Sofia Boutella). As stated previously, the film is one big mockery of the spy genre, more specifically though James Bond. A ludicrous villain with a crazy idea? Check. Hell, that’s all Bond films really are, aren’t they?
Luckily, the plot of this film does in fact have a lot more depth than your typical flashy spy film. I never noticed how many sub plots there really were until watching through this film again. What surprises me further is that, for the most part, they’re all resolved by the end of the film. There are a lot of things you notice throughout a film when you watch it to review it. For example, I never really took notice of the opening to the film until now. See, the only two other times I’ve watched this film were for some coursework and I’m pretty sure I caught the last half at some point. So really, this is my first time watching the entire film.
There were definitely some very risky decisions made in this film. I am of course talking about that snowglobe transition shot we see in the opening to the film. Not many filmmakers would dare do that nowadays, but my God it was a ballsy move. What was also a ballsy move was giving Mark Hamill the tiniest role the film could manage. Still, he plays the role with a great confidence, even though he’s only seen in two scenes. I won’t spoil who he plays, but he does play the role with that Hamill charm.
Before we go any further into the details of the cast and so on, let me take this time to talk about the choreography. Quite simply, it is amazing, that’s all I can really say about it. Yes, it is cut rather frequently, but every cut matters. It’s not as if we lose sight of what is going on like I did in Wonder Woman (2017). I think the best choreographed scenes are the bar fight with Colin Firth, the church fight with Colin Firth and the finale fight with Taron Egerton. Those are the three to look out for in this film.
So as far as the main cast goes, is there anyone that isn’t suited to their role? No, not really. Everyone in this film is as good as it gets. Notable performances from Samuel L. Jackson as usual, it was nice to see him play the villain for once. I mean, look at his performances in other movies and he plays a complete opposite of his other characters in Kingsman: The Secret Service.
The same goes for Colin Firth, who usually plays the lovestruck romantic type. In this film he plays a badass spy that kicks so much arse you’d mistake him for, well, something that kicks arse. Still, it’s great to see Firth and Jackson playing roles they aren’t usually playing, for me it added to the film as a whole. Another actor it’s great to see is Mark Strong, who has, as of late, come swiftly and frequently into my attention. He’s bloody good in this too, playing a sort of trainer for the Kingsman branch.
Of course, the main star of the film is Taron Egerton who works well with pretty much everyone on the screen. I swear, this guy has a hell of a career ahead of him. Now bearing in mind this is the only film I’ve seen him in, but still. He gives this performance his all and quite honestly I wasn’t expecting anything more. For such a new actor he seems to slip extremely well into every scenario the film throws at him. Eggsy is a working class kid (apparently) and Egerton plays the role with an exceptional grace that cannot offend or laud the viewers.
For me, the relationship between Harry and Eggsy was brilliant to see develop. Actually, Eggsy being the central point of the film, has plot developments with pretty much everyone. His progression with Merlin is implemented well, and the same goes for Lancelot (Sophie Cookson), mainly because it isn’t a tacked on love plot. We reserve that only for Swedish royalty. You know, the jokes I make will make a lot more sense if you watch the film.
The supporting cast was equally as excellent. As I mentioned previously, Mark Hamill is great as he always is, but so is Michael Caine. For film nerds out there, you’ll know that Caine starred in his fair share of action and spy films. For me, seeing him in Kingsman: the Secret Service is basically his way of mocking himself. Not himself as in him as a prestiged actor, but the films he used to make.
I mean, let’s be fair, the entire film is just a giant piss take of the James Bond series, I love every second of it. Although it is primarily an action film it most certainly has those tongue in cheek moments, more so than other films of the same genre. The “happy” meal was a brilliantly written line and I firmly believe that whoever wrote that should be hailed as the greatest writer of all time. Still, there were other comedic scenes that managed to both add to the film and also bridge us into some hilarity. These comedic scenes were frequently used to break up an action heavy segment, which was definitely needed.
Something I often do nowadays is, if I like a film soundtrack, I tend to order it from Amazon. Now I never really listened to the soundtrack for this film on my first few viewings, but I’m glad I paid attention this time. Really it’s one of those soundtracks that you wouldn’t listen to, but it sets the tone for the movie well. It does have a sprinkle of famous songs in there, but apart from that everything is quite simply made for this movie.
The cinematography of the film is simply fantastic. A lot of establishing shots are crisp and lovely to look at. Pretty much all of the sets and the Kingsman headquarters itself look bloody phenomenal. There’s nothing in this film that didn’t blow me away with how it looks. Apart from the elevator. Yes, it’s a very odd thing to point out, but my aren’t green screens noticeable. I mean, it didn’t take away from the film or anything, but when you compare this poor green screen with the rest of the amazing visuals, it just doesn’t add up. Still, I am just focusing on one scene in a two hour film.
Still, overall though, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a brilliant blend of action, comedy and mockery of spy films. Even if this film can be regarded as a parody film, it’s still an exceptionally brilliant film on its own. An eccentrically charismatic cast coupled with a plotline so expectantly cliche in its own way. I think, out of everything, that is simply the perfect mix.
Colin Firth surprised me the most in this film, and it’s easy to see why. Egerton’s performance is strong, as is Mark Strong, Michael Caine and everyone else in this marvellous film. I must admit, Kingsman: The Secret Service managed something very rare. It got me excited for a sequel. That in itself is an accomplishment, and one that should most certainly not be taken lightly.