Kingsman was supposed to be a fun movie. Don’t get me wrong, parts of it were fun, but based on the trailers and on Matthew Vaughn’s previous film Kick-Ass, I expected it to be consistently and ridiculously fun throughout while still maintaining a certain level of quality. With Vaughn serving as director/writer/producer, a score conducted by Henry Jackman, and top-billed actors like Colin Firth, Michael Caine, and Samuel L. Jackson, I don’t think this expectation was entirely unjustified.
Yet despite its more enjoyable moments, the charm of its main character, and sleek camerawork, Kingsman: The Secret Service wasn’t always as fun as the filmmakers had intended. Parts of it were rather negative, actually. In one scene, a hypnotized crowd in a church assembly begin slaughtering one another.
Sure, the expert cinematography follows Colin Firth’s character quite impressively, but they follow him massacring dozens of innocent people by means of gun, fist, knife, and various pieces of the building – and it’s not until after he kills all these people that we realize he wasn’t doing these acts intentionally. Yet another scene follows the villain’s henchmen and a slew of world leaders having their heads blown off in a flashy, fireworks-esque display as glorious music plays. Never mind the fact that all the deceased probably had jobs, families, and loved ones – just as long as the scene looks cool. Maybe we didn’t care as much because the churchgoers bore a strong resemblance to Westboro Baptist Church, so I guess that makes it okay.
Kingsman is the story of a twenty-something Londoner named Eggsy (Yes, Eggsy). After his father’s death in the line of undercover duty, Eggsy grows up with a distant mother and abusive step-father to become a delinquent. He’s contacted by Harry Hart (Colin Firth), his late father’s former colleague, and is told he would make a good addition to the team of the Kingsman – a group of British spies with a wide array of physical skills and intellect. As Eggsy trains for the job, the movie’s villain Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) sets up an operation to basically press the restart button for Earth’s population.
Which brings me to a vital question I have for the filmmakers – what in the world were they thinking with their execution of Jackson’s character? Talk about a bad performance. In a feeble attempt to add more humor to the film, Valentine’s character says all his words with a terribly-employed lisp, which proved to be more of a distraction than a riot. What’s so frustrating is that we all know Jackson can do better (Pulp Fiction? A Time to Kill? Django Unchained? The man’s a legend.). We also see another serious sin here – the inclusion of Michael Caine. In a clear move to add credibility to the film, Caine’s inclusion was a poorly-concieved way to add a familiar face for however brief a time.
What was even more disappointing is that in the film’s final act, it really started to sway me toward a recommendation. I started feeling a similar level of amusement that I felt watching Kick-Ass. Unfortunately, it was never to the point where I would say that Kingsman is a must see. The film suffers from an overlong start and training period which are only kept afloat by sporadic action sequences, the confident, star-making presence of Taron Egerton in the role of Eggsy, and the expected benefits of having Colin Firth involved. Towards the end, the movie had those fun moments I was hoping for, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a fully “fun” movie – even though that’s what it wanted to be.
This movie received 2.5 out of 5 Bulldogs