I will freely admit I went into Kingsman: The Secret Service expecting the worst. Like, the absolute worst. As anyone who’s been reading this site for any amount of time will know, we here at The Nerd Signal are no fans of Mark Millar and his lowest common denominator high concept shit. Could even Matthew Vaughn, director of my favorite X-Men film, save Millar’s
shameless rip-off loving homage to James Bond Jr? He couldn’t make Kick-Ass into a watchable movie.
I’m incredibly surprised and excited to say he not only made something watchable, but downright great. Of course he did this at the expense of almost everything from the comic, save the basic concept and the name (kind of).
Vaughn’s version of the story follows Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton, of a couple of British TV shows you’ve likely never heard of), the son of a dead secret agent and a bit of a hooligan. He gets into some real trouble and calls in a favor only to find himself in “the most dangerous job interview in the world” when Harry Hart (Colin Firth), a friend of his father’s, thinks Eggsy could be something special and wants him to join up and become a spy.
But what would a James Bond riff be without its villain? Samuel L. Jackson shows up as Richmond Valentine, a lisping cell phone mogul who abhors violence but has invented a way to incite people to lose all inhibition and mindlessly beat each other to death. He plans to use this to cleanse the world of all those he deems unworthy to live in his new Utopia.
Taron Egerton isn’t exactly a face you’ve seen much before, but that’s probably going to change after this. The kid’s got a kind of an energy and charisma that demands he be the center of attention. That’s a hard trick to pull off when your film also has Sofia Boutella as Gazelle, a double-amputee hench-woman with fucking swords for legs. Seriously. That is a thing that exists in this movie.
The film’s break-out star, though, is easily Colin Firth. I can only hope after seeing him kick ass here that he experiences a late-career reinvention as an action star, a la Liam Neeson. Seriously, just try not to be impressed when he takes out an entire church full of white supremacists.
That scene leads to one of the few problems I had with Kingsman. The church scene is played for laughs and cheers, but a later sequence that echos it is played for horror. It’s hard to look at this scenario as a nightmare when we’ve already seen how awesome it can be.
Aside from that one issue, this movie is amazing. It’s incredibly fun and inventive (and is so without the negatives generally associated with Mark Millar). The director (and his frequent co-writer Jane Goldman) accomplished quite the difficult feat – Kingsman: The Secret Service is both a spot-on send-up of spy movies and a worthy entry to the genre canon. I can’t recommend this film enough.
I give it 9 BULLETPROOF SUITS out of 10.