To say that Kingsman: The Secret Service is original is sort of like saying cigarettes prevent lung cancer. However, there are plenty of cinematic examples where a lack of originality does not spoil the fun … and for the most part, this rings true here.
The Kingsman (Kingsmen if it’s plural?) are an independent, secret society of spies who sport code names from King Arthur and his knights. They’re highly trained, always dress impeccably, and generally come from old money. For some reason, class warfare is one of the main themes here and the word ‘posh’ wasn’t used nearly as much as I would have thought for a film set in England. But I digress.
So the basic idea is that the good guys need to replace a fallen comrade while at the same time figure out who was behind his death. So the film runs you through the typical selection of the fittest contest (where brains and heart matter as much as muscle). And you know how that’s going to go when they place a kid from the wrong side of the tracks (or whatever the British equivalent is of that). And wouldn’t you know it? Once they figure out Samuel L. Jackson and his lisp are the enemy, of course things don’t all go to plan and some of the new blood must step in.
Now I could write a whole bunch of random things. Like how I feel like I wrote this plot on a napkin while waiting for my bacon cheeseburger and tots. Like not being totally onboard with the choice to have Jackson rock the lisp because it seemed like a lazy choice (but the audience loved it). Or like how the movie felt like RED meets James Bond meets Austin Powers meets Kick-Ass.
But in the end, I have to say it was entertaining. The actors seemed to have bought in. While the new kid (Taron Egerton) felt like a less annoying Ryan Phillipe, I always enjoy Colin Firth, Mark Hamill with a British accent is fun, and the CGI used to make it seem like Sofia Boutella was a top-class Paralympian with super sharp blade feet was top notch. Perhaps most surprising was watching Mark Strong play a good guy. He’s played a lot of baddies in his career so seeing him play the opposite was perhaps the most interesting element as far as acting choices.
In any case, there’s really not that much more to say here. Director Matthew Vaughn helms this predictable but likable effort just fine. Since he’s not butchering the X-Men source material here, his no-frills and generally paint-by-number approach didn’t offend me in the slightest. If you want your action-spy movies with the bare minimum of neural obstacles, Kingsman is for you. I turned my brain off and was decently entertained. I suspect if you can do the same, you’ll be too.
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content
Release Date: February 13, 2015
Running Time: 129 minutes