Big Screen :: Kingsman: The Secret Service

February 9th 2015


Sometimes a movie just hits me in such a personal sweet spot that I get concerned others may not have the same experience I did.

This is the case with Matthew Vaughn‘s new movie, Kingsman: The Secret Service.

This is a James Bond rip-off with the audacity not to try to emulate the super cool early Connery stuff, or the new and super successful gritty version… but rather, the desperately unfashionable, parodied-to-death goofy late Connery/Roger Moore version. These are movies full of sexism and bad wigs that are not, by most definitions, good films – but are still hugely influential on a generation of people who saw them as little kids with their fathers and grandfathers and thought the submarine car or hollowed-out volcano with its own monorail system was just about the greatest thing they had ever seen.

People like me, basically.

It’s easy to make fun of those films when you are old and cynical, but Vaughn is both updating and celebrating them here.

If he was just making an homage, though, that would quickly get boring. Instead, he has done something that none of the silly Bonds ever managed; which is to make a beautifully written, shot, paced and edited movie.

Try to keep in mind my point about silliness when I describe the premise to you. Basically, a generation of hugely wealthy aristocrats found themselves without heirs after World War One, so instead they invested their immense wealth into an apolitical non-government secret service agency called Kingsman, full of highly trained, dapper middle-aged British badasses – like Colin Firth from The Kings Speech.

Firth is a butt-kicking death machine in this, by the way.


When a vacancy opens up, he decides to pick a lower-class cockney to compete against the rich kids to join Kingsman. At the same time, he’s on the trail of Samuel L Jackson with a speech impediment, who thinks he may have solved global warming, but not in a good way.

That’s a lot of plot, and the movie isn’t short – but it is propulsive and super fun. Vaughn’s secret weapon is his screenwriting partner, Jane Goldman, who is a complete genius at structuring movies like this. She also manages to take stories you feel like you have seen 100 times to places you were not expecting, as well as the seemingly impossible trick of hitting real emotional beats in otherwise silly movies.

Together, Vaughn and Goldman are three from three with this, Kick Ass and the way-better-than-it-should-have-been X Men First Class. I won’t count Stardust.

I said at the top that this film hit a sweet spot for me, so this is not a blanket recommendation. It’s not for everyone. It’s a crazy, hyper violent cartoon, complete with an insane, horrifying and hilarious massacre… in a church. If you can imagine yourself enjoying a movie where those adjectives can be applied to a church massacre, don’t miss Kingsman: the Secret Service.


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