Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Sofia Boutella, Mark Hamill
I love it when I go into a film expecting little and come out completely excited because the movie I just saw exceeded my expectations. This is what happened to me with Kingsman: The Secret Service a movie I only had a vague idea about suddenly falls right into my best of the year list. This magnificent James Bond spoof comes to us from Matthew Vaughn, the guy who brought us Kick Ass (2010), X-Men: First Class (2011) and Stardust (2007) all entertaining films in my book. Vaughn wanted to make this movie so badly he said no to directing X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), so that’s how much of a passion project this movie is to Vaughn. Not every director will have the guts to say no to a sure hit that will make millions in order to make a risky film that’s totally original. Sure Kingsman is based on Matthew Vaughn’s own comic book ‘The Secret Service’, but it’s not a household name. It’s not a sure thing. You have to respect a director who believes so much in his film that his willing to do that. The thing is that I see why he did it. Turns out Kingsman was way more entertaining than the last X-Men movie every step of the way, so I’m actually happy Vaughn eschewed X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) for Kingsman.
In Kingsman: The Secret Service we are introduced to Eggsy, a young man who is going down the dark path. He’s all about being a trouble maker. He likes to go to bars to pick fights and cause a ruckus. But there’s something about him, he’s got potential to be something great. Secret Service Agent Harry Hart recognizes this, so he gives him a chance to apply to become a Kingsman. Just what the hell is a Kingsman and does Eggsy have what it takes to become one? Or is he just another loser?
What is so awesome about Kingsman is that it has all these old James Bond movies to build upon. What Matthew Vaughn did was he watched every single James Bond and spy movie ever made, and then he made this one. He cleverly avoids the famous clichés and makes fun of them while at the same time being a good spy movie. It’s a rule of thumb I have for all spoofs. If you’re going to spoof a genre, you still have to be a good film within the genre you are spoofing. Good examples of this are Young Frankenstein (1974) and Spaceballs (1986), two of Mel Brooks most famous spoofs. Young Frankenstein is a damn good Frankenstein movie (actually it was nominated for Best Screenplay in 1974) while still making fun of all those Frankenstein films that came before it. Young Frankenstein is such a good Frankenstein movie that it even surpasses many of the films it is spoofing. Same with Spaceballs, there’s no better Star Wars spoof out there. Funny, yet mindful to the type of film it is. And this is what Kingsman does so well. It takes all those elements you know and love from James Bond films and then twists them around and takes them to another level. If you are a fan of Bond movies, you will have a blast with Kingsman: The Secret Service. It’s always referencing some cliché from the Bond films. In this sense it reminds me William Dear’s If Looks Could Kill (1991), which was also about a teenager who turns into a super spy. It was also a lighthearted, fun film that poked fun at Bond movies, but trust me, Kingsman does it a million times better. Still, if you enjoy Kingsman, check out If Looks Could Kill (1991).
But aside from the spoof aspect of this film, as it turns out, it is also an extremely well written film saying a whole lot about the society we live in and what is wrong with it and boy, I wasn’t expecting this at all, but Kingsman: The Secret Service is one of the most subversive films I’ve seen in a while. It’s a film that sends a big ‘screw you’ to politics and religion. There’s an outstanding sequence that takes place inside of a Christian church that showcases everything that is wrong with religion today. What this story is saying is that politicians and religious leaders are total whackos, they just happen to be running the world, making all the wrong choices for all of us. How do you save the world from these madmen? By becoming a true gentleman, ridding the world of evil. I loved the message that the films puts across. It’s basically saying we can become something better, we can improve ourselves, we can do some good in the world. We have the potential, we just need to focus. It also speaks about the manipulation of the masses, and the control of how they perceive things. I can see why the film is rated ‘R’, it has profanity, nudity and subversive ideas. Its violence quotient is pretty high. It feels as if the filmmakers decided that if they we’re going to go with an ‘R’ rating, they were going to go all in. And that they did; which was awesome. It was so refreshing to see a film that wasn’t worrying about being politically correct.
Final words: this movie turned out to be one of my favorite of the year; it was entertaining every step of the way. One of the biggest compliments it gets from me is that it was never boring. Not for a second. It brought back that fun element that modern James Bond movies lack. If you take a look at Bond films of today, they are currently on a ‘deadly serious’ phase, all the silly fun from the old movies has been sucked right out of that franchise. And while I absolutely loved Sky Fall (2012), I miss the whacky element from the old ones, but don’t worry if you’ve been missing that sense of fun adventure from your spy movies, Kingsman: The Secret Service brings it all back. So remember, what you guys have here is a film that’s very self conscious, it knows the cliché’s and staples of a good spy adventure and plays with them in innovative ways. And one more final note, the Matthew Vaughn’s direction on this one is top notch, his camera moves and angles, the over all direction of the film is truly fantastic. It’s dynamic, the camera angles are interesting, innovative. Case in point? The fights scenes on this movie are a blast! Really fun to watch! Now go see Kingsman: The Secret Service and have a blast, it just might blow your head into a million colorful pieces.
Rating: 5 out of 5