If you would have told me before I went to see Kingsman that I'll
enjoy a movie made by Matthew Vaughn, I would have never believed it. I find his
X Men to be really mediocre, his Layer Cake to be excruciatingly boring
and almost criminally overpraised and Kick Ass is one of the worst things
I've seen in my entire life and I do not mean just movies - things. But
perhaps every director I loathe must have at least one movie I enjoy.
Terrence Malick - Thin Red Line. Lars Von Trier - Melancholia. And now
Vaughn and his amazingly fun and entertaining Kingsman.
film bears very strong resemblance to many spy comedies and X Men: First
Class (the sky diving sequence especially) but at the same time it feels
fresh and unique. While some things are stale - especially the tired
Michael Caine is a villain plot twist - Kingsman brings several things
that felt like a real breath of fresh air.
First of all, the
protagonist. Young, vulgar, rebellious. In any other movie he would be annoying. But not here. While Eggsy is a loud teenager, he is also a
good person. There are so many bits showing him being caring
towards his sister and mom and then we see him love his dog so much and
that's always a big winner for me.
Then there is the actor
playing the part - Taron Egerton. I don't know where they found him but he is so
charming and likable. Aaron Taylor Johnson in Kick Ass was just
irritating and all of the kids in X Men - not just the eternally bugging the
shit out of me Jennifer Lawrence - were all so bland and forgettable.
This one you are actually rooting for and that's so rare. And he isn't
some kind of perfect hero - he is willing to cheat, kill and yes,
exploit. But it's all done in a very fun way.
Another thing that
is so fresh is that the film casts Colin Firth in a role we have never
seen him play before - he simply kicks ass. We saw Firth being suave, elegant
and funny before but we never saw him in action scenes like that. The
fact that the film combines that archetypal myth of the perfect,
always dashing and well mannered British gentleman with the role of an
action hero is absolutely brilliant. We get to see Firth choose a great suit
and in another scene ruthlessly take down dozens of people. It doesn't get better than this.
The supporting cast is great - it was so much fun seeing Jack Davenport in a movie again, even if he didn't have that much to do. Sofia Boutella is awesome as the villain's sidekick Gazelle, she really created very fun and interesting character and Hanna Alstrom is great as feisty princess of Sweden. But my favorite was Mark Strong who was effortlessly charming and funny as Merlin.
Samuel L. Jackson is having a blast
playing a cartoonish villain with a lisp - Valentine. Interesting thing is that his plan is based on the noble cause. Yes, the means are awful and he is
insane but he is kinda right, isn't he? Here's the thing about Kingsman
that makes it so much fun - it throws things at you, you completely
don't expect - that a villain actually is right on some level, that the
cute girl actually pulls the trigger, anal sex, killing of the co-lead,
putting child in danger.
Many of those are over the line but unlike Kick
Ass, the film never crosses to the reprehensible territory. The dogs really
survive, nothing bad happens to Eggsy's sister and that anal sex? Are
you kidding me with all the outrage? Eggsy didn't force her, she volunteered. Clearly she was joyful about it. So you
are just operating on the assumption that a female can't enjoy anal sex. The outrage over the scene? That is what is sexist here.
The shot of frightened JB is the only thing that disturbed me. I'm also not surprised to read this trivia - Writer/director Matthew Vaughn originally wanted the Kingsman agents to kill the dogs, but co-writer Jane Goldman felt it risked losing the audience. Of course Vaughn wanted to kill the dogs. Him and Wes Anderson would get along.
While Vaughn still appears to be a sadistic prick, I admire the level of details here. The code 2625 for the Princess' jail cell is, according to Urban Dictionary, the code for Anal Sex. Also it's worth noting that the concept of giving trainees a puppy at the beginning of their
training and having them kill it as the last step also appears in the
Song of Ice and Fire novels as a part of the training of the Unsullied. Goddammit, George.
What's also worthy of applause is that Vaughn didn't go the cliche route and pair up Eggsy with a fellow Kingsman candidate Roxy.
I'm glad. That bitch pulled the trigger.
The action scenes are just terrific, starting with a great sequence in a cabin through the insanely suspenseful sky diving sequence to the grand finale. But the most amazing sequence in the entire film is the scene where Colin Firth massacres 79 people in a church. The scene set to the legendary guitar solo from Free Bird is one of the finest action sequences you'll ever see. I guarantee you, your jaw will drop to the floor.
The soundtrack is also another thing that is top notch, both the choices of songs and the original score. The visual effects are great and often times very funny and creative - for example in the exploding heads sequence. And Gazelle's blades looked incredibly realistic.
In one of the scenes Valentine mentions how he would love to eat burgers from McDonald's and drink fine wine. And on a much grander scale a clash of mainstream and sophistication is mixed to perfection in the film - swearing, violence and not so subtle jokes on one side and British accent, fine suits and clever script on the other. It's surprisingly delicious.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014, 129 min)
Plot: A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency's ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.
Jane Goldman (screenplay), Matthew Vaughn (screenplay), Mark Millar and
Dave Gibbons (comic book "The Secret Service")
Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson