Movie Review: Kingsman
Manners Maketh a Seriously Kick-Ass Movie
As a sort of primer to how I do movie reviews: When I do a review of anything, it is an impression—you know, Oh, this was good, or, this was not, or, so and so's performance was brilliant, etc. I don't summarize the plot of any medium that utilizes one. For that, you can go to Wikipedia or something. Also, I don't do spoilers—life's hard enough.
Kingsman: The Secret Service stars Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, and quite a large number of other people, but perhaps most notably, Mark Hamill (I don't know the last time I saw Mark Hamill in anything—I know he's done voice work and cameos, but movies?). The film's director and co-writer, Matthew Vaughan, perhaps most recently known for his excellent reboot of the X-Men franchise, returns to the Mark Millar territory previously explored with 2010s Kick Ass. If you're seriously interested in the credits, I suggest going here, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2802144/, or sitting all the way through the end of the movie and concentrating very studiously.
Full disclosure to any comic book snobs out there, I did not read the comic this was based on, nor am I likely to. This has nothing to do with any judgement against comic book snobs—as a music snob, I feel you, and would never pass judgement on those who pass judgement in the pop culture arts (except as I am obliged to as popular culture enthusiast). Therefore, my critique of this film does not take into account the quality of its adaptation. However, my gut tells me that if Vaughan were not doing Millar's work justice, Millar would not allow him to continue plumbing his oeuvre for movie fodder (feel free to correct me in the comments section).
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. As a send-up of the classic 60's and 70's Bond-type spy film, it was absolutely fantastic. Visually, it was like candy—beautifully choreographed fight scenes, snappy visual effects, and, well, lots of color. In my opinion, though, the entire film is carried on the shoulder of two performances, the main one being Colin Firth, and the secondary coming from Mark Strong, and this is key, because Samuel L. Jackson's affected lisp began to wear on me pretty quickly. However, it is, I think, a testament to Jackson's ability as an actor that he was able to portray intelligence, cunning, intensity, and mental imbalance despite sounding like a fool.
Kingsman... never takes itself too seriously, but, at the same time, it does not sacrifice intelligence for entertainment value, and while it ticks over the two hour mark, it never feels too long or stretched out. It pays homage to the genre by sending it up, doing it justice, and never stopping to consider political correctness. The film's success on this level is on par with like-minded films, e.g., Shoot 'Em Up, Guardians of the Galaxy, or Joss Whedon's Avengers. If this is a trend in film-making, or even just an increasingly frequent treat, I, for one, welcome it.
If you like Kingsman: The Secret Service, might I recommend these tasty flicks:
- Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, 2005
- Shoot 'em Up, 2007
- Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, 2010
Additionally, if you'd like to stay in the comic book movie world (yes, I know, Scott Pilgrim counts as a comic book movie), I recommend these:
- Sin City, 2005
- Iron Man, 2008
- The Avengers, 2012
- Guardians of the Galaxy, 2014