An order has existed for centuries, guarding her majesty’s country against any threat that presented itself. They are called the Kingsman, and they are based on the old legend of Arthur and his knights of the round table. They are the epitome of sophistication, with the added bonus of having the ability to kill a lot of people. When a Kingsman dies, each of the other ones must choose an apprentice to submit to a series of test that will decide who will fit the vacancy. Harry Hart (Colin Firth), AKA Galahad, decides to go the unconventional route and choose the street-wise Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton), whose father served as a Kingsman before dying when Eggsy was a child.
Ultimately, the head of the group Arthur (Michael Caine) decides Eggsy isn’t fit to be part of the secret society and chooses the very capable Roxy (Sophie Cookson) to succeed the agent. Meanwhile, Galahad investigates billionaire communications expert Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), who seems to be working on an apocalyptic plot with the help of his assistant/body guard/assassin Gazelle (Sofia Boutella). After Galahad is murdered, it is up to Eggsy, Roxy, and tech specialist Merlin (Mark Strong) to uncover the conspiracy and stop the sinister Valentine’s plan.
Matthew Vaughn is uniquely qualified to bring this mordernistic Arthurian tale to life. He has proven his skills in bringing to life even the most complex comic book universes into the real world by being the screenwriter for X-Men: First Class and the game-changing X-Men: Days of Future Past. He has also proven his chops in directing by being writer/director for X-Men: First Class, but more importantly for having the same role in the similarly styled Kick-Ass. The similarities between Kingsman and Kick-Ass is no coincidence since they were both based on comics created by Mark Millar, and like we also saw in another one of his works, Wanted, we know doesn’t shy away from stylized violence and carnage.
The film is not only stylized, but it is also about style. From the multipurpose suits and accessories to the deadly prosthetic legs, there is a sort of deadly elegance behind it all. It succeeds in incorporating all the luxury and refineries of the spy genre by introducing an opposing force that embodies the opposite of all of those elements. Almost like an intelligent juggernaut that barrels through breaking all conventions and updating the very outdated modality in the approach to spyhood. The wild wantonness in the approach also makes it for a genuine experience, especially during the thoughtfully choreographed mass fight sequences. The entire production would come off as wooden and standoffish is the cast playing the characters weren’t also having a good time with their characters, which they obviously were. Since the cast is mostly comprised of British actors we have only seen in serious roles, there is an added layer of humor just watching them let loose on screen.
The thing that makes Kingsman: The Secret Service stand out from any alternative film coming out this Valentine’s Day weekend is that you will actually enjoy this one. It does have violence, sex appeal, and a very penetrating (almost unnecessary) final scene like it’s competition, but this film has an engaging (and consensual) story and great character interactions with people obviously enjoying themselves. As the body count rises, our enjoyment rises with it. Did I mention the villain’s name is Valentine?
RATING: ★★★★★★★(7/10 stars)