Screened Out – Kingsman: The Secret Service

By : Stephen Miller
Comments: 0

Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Mark Strong, Mark Hamill, Jack Davenport

Kingsman starts out suave and sophisticated, but it also tells you where it’s going – to visceral violence.

“Times are changing,” warns secret agent Firth, even though he looks like a slick 1960s spy.

The beginning hearkens back to the Roger Moore James Bond films – the ones with a heaping helping of absurdity. Just like them, Kingsman at first wants you to laugh as you enjoy the sophistication. Then – dramatically and quickly – this flick dives into Quentin Tarantino territory, replete with ridiculous amounts of blood and gore – another type of absurdity altogether.

Matthew Vaughn has proven time and again that he's a skilled director.

Matthew Vaughn has proven time and again that he’s a skilled director.

Director/cowriter Matthew Vaughn seems to know he’s directing a film that changes tone drastically. He’s an able director – X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Layer Cake. He also has an extraordinary cast. However, he may not be able to completely overcome the meandering and commonplace start (the typical training of new spies), and then the vicious violence that launches the last part of this story.

Want a calm, collected spy thriller? “This ain’t that kind of movie,” warns goofy super-villain Jackson.

However, it starts like that kind of movie. Firth has been a secret agent for years; he masquerades as a tailor. He and his other spies are asks to submit young candidates to join them as Kingsmen – an agency above government control, dating back to King Arthur’s time with codenames like Galahad and Lancelot.

The reason that the Kingsmen need a new member is because Lancelot (Davenport) has been killed while investigating famous world leaders, professors, and celebrities gone missing. He meets a gory end.

Firth recruits handsome, lower class Egerton. The elder launches the younger on a training that includes a lot of neat gadgets and a bit of social polish.

Even though there aren’t a lot of surprises in the first part, it’s still an absolute joy – watching great actors like Firth, Caine, and Strong. One villain has razor-sharp blades for legs – how cool is that? The other inventions are awesome, and the pace is light and fun.

If only it stayed that way.

Villainous Jackson is a billionaire inventor who’s repeatedly warned about global warming and humans killing the planet. Now, he’s got a plan to fix all our problems. It’s not necessarily neat or clean. It certainly isn’t kind.

Ratings Key

See it now! Buy the DVD! Quote lines at parties!

Definitely worth the price of admission

It’s useful as a distraction

Maybe if someone else pays and you need a nap

Slightly worse than eternal damnation

Depending on your opinion, you may find Jackson’s acting ridiculous or entertaining. He seems to take the far-fetched villain even farther. He lisps and swaggers; he has an aversion to anything violent.

If he were sitting in this movie, he’d hate the last part. One prolonged scene is about as violent as it gets. It’s shocking, and it tilts the balance away from classy to crass.

Still, if you’re a secret agent fan, Kingsman is mostly a blast. More importantly, if you’re a film buff, this is one of those good but not wholly successful rule-breaking films worth a few hours of discussion.

Share this story: