Movie Review: Kingsmen: The Secret Service (2014)

Posted: July 3, 2015 in Action, Comedy, Drama
Tags: , , ,


Harry Hart/Galahad (Colin Firth) is a member of an elite group of British clandestine spies called the Kingsmen.  Harry feels responsible for the death of Lee (Jonno Davies) one of his agents, in a mission gone wrong.  17 years later, a scientist named Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill) is kidnapped by an internet billionaire named Valentine. (Samuel L. Jackson) Another agent named Lancelot (Jack Davenport  is killed in trying to rescue Professor Arnold.  Harry, still feeling indebted for Lee’s death, gets Lee’s son Eggsy out of trouble with the police. Harry recruits Eggsy (Alex Nikolov, Taron Egerton) to join the Kiingsmen.  Despite his plebian background and his inability to finish school or military service, Eggsy has potential, according to Harry.

Eggsy has to compete with several recruits including a female recruit named Roxy (Sophie Cookson), and get through the training alive.  All the while, Valentine, who seems like an innocuous internet dweeb, who believes in global warming, has a devious plot afoot to end global warming.  Along with his beautiful, homicidal sidekick Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) Valentine hatches a plan that is well underway before Harry fully grasps the scope of it. Can Harry stop Valentine and Gazelle before their plan comes to fruition?  Can Eggsy survive the training, and beat out the other candidates to become a Kingsman?

This is quite an enjoyable action spy movie.  My first thought was why does Marvel need to update the spy movie when James Bond is still roaring away?  Well, this is more an homage to the Bond films, and it even acknowledges the Bond films several times, a Kingsmen martini, there’s even a scene were Harry shows Eggsy his spy gadgets..  There are several plot twists, and lots of humor, a lot of action, an interesting plot, and enough exposition to keep the storyline clear, so there’s nothing wrong with another set of spies based in England as long as it’s well done.  And for the most part it is.

But despite all the good, and there is a lot of good, this movie does have shortcomings, these comics turned movies have developed a habit of editorializing on politics and sometimes rewriting history.  Sometimes it works, like X-Men, sometimes not, like the Watchmen. In this movie it does not, the politics are all over the map, so everyone, whatever your political beliefs, will be angry at some point. This is also, even by Hollywood standards, a very violent movie, including a disturbing scene of violence inside a church. Most of the violence was gratuitous and unnecessary, but this movie not only displays numerous acts of violence, it seems to revel in them..  There was also sexism that went beyond the requisite 1960’s spy movie sexism. Roxy, the female recruit is squeamish to jump out of a plane,  until she gets reassurance from Eggsy, she’s the top female recruit in the program,and she won’t jump out of a plane?  There is also a very crude proposal from someone who’s supposed to be a Swedish princess, I know that’s another homage to Bond, but the writers could have toned down the language, and cut the nudity out completely. These sexist lapses are odd considering one of the writers is a woman.  Oh and by the way, if Valentine’s tech savvy enough to have fingerprint recognition security, he’s not using a mainframe. Just a little tech tip for the next movie. There’s also shameless product placement, a low-point for any movie.

The acting is top notch, Colin Firth plays Harry less like Bond and more like Patrick McNee of the tv show The Avengers he’s smooth and uses his umbrella as a weapon.  Firth just exuded charm, wit and grace, and was very believable as Harry.  Samuel L. Jackson excels as the nerdy villain Valentine, given him a lisp, so he sounded like an evil Mike Tyson.  Michael Caine is Michael Kane, and he puts in a solid performance as an elder statesman of the Kingsmen.  Taron Egerton was very good as Eggsy, and gave the role a real sense of flair for a young actor. And Sofia Boutella was a standout as the villain Gazelle, she was the take no prisoners type character Roxy should have been.  Gazelle sort of reminded me of Jaws, played by Richard Kiel in The Spy Who Loved Me.  Instead of using metal teeth, Gazelle uses metal prosthetics on her legs to attack her foes. Mark Strong is also very good as Merlin. He was last in the Imitation Game, in which he gave another outstanding performance.

The direction is good, the pacing is fast, Matthew Vaughn is a veteran action movie director, who’s directed films like Kick Ass, and X-Men First Class, he gets good performances from the younger actors, like Egerton and Boutella, and creates a very stylish look for the film.

Kingsmen:  Leaves its audience shaken and stirred.


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