Kingsman: The Secret Service is a Matthew Vaughn film based off the comic The Secret Service. It's a British spy film focused around the Kingsmen, as they're in the process of selecting a new Kingsman. Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) is a lower-class kid invited by Galahad (Colin Firth) to be part of the try-out selection. The Kingsmen also face Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), one of those colorful and wacky, spy-movie terrorists.
I was really looking forward to this movie. It was my 5th most anticipated movie of the year solely because of my faith in director Matthew Vaughn. He has had numerous success in the comic book genre before (X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass are both in my Top 10 Live-Action Comic Book Films), and I was positive that he'd be able to deliver again.
I liked the film, but I was very disappointed with it. Not because my expectations were so high, but really because I have quite large issues with it.
Leading off with the positives, Kingsman is a very fun action/spy movie. Vaughn just knows how to deliver great action sequences, and this time is no exception. There's a lot of really well choreographed fight sequences here and a lot of inventive gadgetry. Some of the fight sequences here I'd say are reminiscent of Edgar Wright fight sequences, which are really exciting, fast-paced, mostly consisting of long one-shots, and have unique music choice.
The performances are equally kick-ass. Firth was really good, as he is usually, but this time, we get to see him as an action star, and my God, I don't want to see Firth in anything other action movies ever again (mostly kidding). Jackson nails his role as the cartoonish and colorful villain. It's right up his alley to do so, and he absolutely crushed it. Egerton and Sophie Cookson are revelations in this film. They're surprisingly really good, for people I haven't heard one word about. I'm very interested in seeing more of them in the future.
On the surface, Kingsman is a really fun and exciting popcorn flick. However, I feel that it's when you delve deeper into it, that a few people will find a disconnect, as I did.
Jackson's character, Richmond Valentine, is a man who is sick at the sight of violence, yet is the villain of the film who wants to unleash global chaos and death. That's sort of like the film itself. One moment, it's celebrating its action sequences (the fun, upbeat music and some deaths presented comedically), and in the following scene, comes the aftermath, the dark and grim realization of what has just transpired on-screen (or in "real life", in the perspective of the character). There were so quick and they fall together so inconsistently. Granted, I do believe Vaughn did this intentionally, but I don't understand why he'd think it'd work. Maybe I can examine it more upon further viewing, but as of now, it just didn't sit right with me.
There were other few inconsistencies I saw within the film. Like how a few characters talk the talk about being a gentlemen and how it's your actions that make you one ("manners maketh man"), but they don't walk the walk when it comes to this. Their actions and (sometimes) motivations fall outside of the image their putting up. I felt as if our protagonist, Eggsy, had a nice story so far... that was until the end scenes came up, which I felt were a bit against what the character was building up to.
Also, it comments on old spy movies (especially James Bond), but unlike others, I wasn't turned off by that commentary. The thing I felt lacking was a clear stand on whether the film was a homage to old spy films or a parody. The film itself doesn't feel quite sure on that either. A lot of times, you'll see the film wink and nudge at old spy film tropes but it really doesn't do anything that improves upon them. The film even repeats some tropes at times.
There's no doubt that Kingsman: The Secret Service is a mostly well-made action/spy film with great performances. Hell, I even liked it. It's just that when the film got to deconstruction of subject matter, I felt a few parts didn't really connect well. There were a few scenes that were a little hard to sit through, honestly.