The new spy film/satire “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” is the one of those films you cannot take seriously. As in too seriously. The film is a blend of social satire and your traditional action/spy film that was surprisingly a good film. The film centers on Gary “Eggsy” Uwin (Taron Egerton), a London youth who is called upon to join an independent spy agency by Harry Hart code-name Galahad (Colin Firth), who knew his late father, a former Kingsman himself.
The agency’s headquarters are a Savile Row tailor shop where like classic spies before him there’s always a need for a good suit. As Eggsy trains with others, who are above his social class with Merlin (Mark Strong), Hart tries to learn the motive of mad billionaire genius Richmond Valentine. A strange cross between Sir Richard Branson, Steve Jobs and the wardrobe of Russel Simmons. Valentine, who is sick and tired of saving the world’s problems through normal methods, so he decides to literally let the world go to hell in a handbasket. He also takes the liberty of giving safe haven to some of the richest and most powerful people in the world, even if they don’t want it. Oh the irony of that.
Since the film is directed by Matthew Vaughan, (X Men: First Class, Kick Ass), the film has a brisk pace which is great since it clocks in at just over two hours. This being my first Vaughan film I have to say I can see why his films are so good. For once you can have an action flick that doesn’t sacrifice the plot for some “wham-bam-thank you ma’am” moments. The longest fight takes place in a hate group church, in which Valentine and his assistant Gazelle (the deliciously deadly Sofia Boutella), test their ‘gift’ to humanity, SIM cards that actually causes rage. Hart, who attended the church knowing it was a target, but didn’t get a SIM cards is also affected and does most of the damage to the people in it. It is choreographed mayhem at perhaps its finest.
All of the characters are richly drawn despite the fact that in a few scenes they do come close to parodying the spy genre. But this is at first glance, Jane Goldman who co-wrote the film with Vaughan gives the film’s subtle self-awareness gene that keeps the film going. One example occurs in the film when Hart and Valentine discuss what they wanted to be when they grew up. One wanted to be a spy the other the villain, from those classic spy films, yet they wound up as the total opposite of what they wanted.
In the realm of super-villain henchmen or in this case woman, Gazelle played by Boutella, makes walking in those prosthetic weapons appear silky and sexy, comes from her background as a dancer. She has more stomach for this than Valentine, who for being a villain, hates the sight of blood. Gazelle also reminds me of the Bond villain Oddjob with his signature Bowler hat which could also take limbs off. Her sex appeal is a reason she’s on sides of city buses and not the others.
Finally, the film also takes a slight jab at the British class system, which Eggsy has to deal with first. When a previous spy dies or retires, they must pick a replacement. Hart being the more progressive of the bunch, chooses Eggsy to prove that class doesn’t define the path you’re on. Eggsy makes a friend in Roxy, who like the others went to posh school but has that streak of tolerance the others lack. I was hoping that Roxy and Eggsy would get together but that’s hopefully in the sequel.
All in all Kingsman is the perfect film for the winter blues and the Oscars overload that occurs in February. Diverting us from cold world outside to the sexier and yet no less crazy one on the screen. Now if I could just get that umbrella…
Kingsman: The Secret Service is rated R. swearing, limbs being cutoff, the occasional sexual innuendo, Mark Hamill and Colin Firth as a total bad-ass.