In a year bereft of a Raid film, it’s entirely possible for Kingsman: The Secret Service to be both one of the best action movies of the year and also containing the best single action scene of the year. Matthew Vaughn, whose Kick-Ass arguably had the same claim, has given us another incredibly enjoyable action-comedy. Based on a comic book called The Secret Service, it provides us with thrilling action, genuine laughter, and some in-jokes when it comes to spy movies.
Our lead is Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a low-class English teenager whose childhood hasn’t exactly been easy. His father was a soldier who died when he was only a few years old, and his mother has been with an abusive boyfriend for years now. He gets into some trouble, winds up being interrogated at a jail, but remembers a number on his father’s medal that he was supposed to call if he got into trouble. He does so, and is immediately released. A man, Harry Hart (Colin Firth) awaits him outside of the jail. After a brief discussion, he’s given the opportunity to compete against a group of other teenagers to become a member of Kingsman, an independent spy organization.
If you’re thinking that Kingsman is going to be another “James Bond, but with kids,” you’re mistaken. Vaughn doesn’t make children’s movies, and this is no exception. It’s profane and violent, filled with a whole bunch of blood. I didn’t know going in whether or not the film was going to be a PG-13 or an R, and I can say with absolute certainty that it isn’t going to be the former. This isn’t a movie for the children.
Kids wouldn’t appreciate it as much, anyway. They wouldn’t “get” how lots of the characters are in various roles that are prominent in spy movies. Michael Caine is in the “M” role, for instance. Samuel L. Jackson is a lispy over-the-top villain whose end-goal is to kill almost everyone on the planet so that humans can start over. Mark Strong is the teenagers’ mentor, while Colin Firth is the veteran. Jokes are made at the expense of other spy movies. “It’s not that type of movie” is said at least twice.
Outside of the humor, which is prevalent throughout and has more than a few laugh-out-loud moments, we’re also treated to at least three extremely wonderful action scenes. The best one comes inside of a church, if you’re wondering. Long takes, clear cinematography, and wonderful choreography allows us to appreciate everything that’s going on. Kingsman might feature better action than Kick-Ass did, and Kick-Ass had fantastic action.
The film is kind of dumb, as you might expect it to be. It’s got a childish sense of humor at times, it fills the screen with a gleefully immature amount of blood — I’m not necessarily complaining about that — and some of its potentially smarter aspects are ignored. Eggsy is the only low-class teenager in the group, but outside of a few small taunts, the class issue isn’t really tackled. We’re more focused on getting to the fantastic action, which is 100% okay with me. Like I said, Kingsman could very well wind up being the best pure action movie of 2015.
It’s inherently funny watching someone like Colin Firth playing an action hero, and that’s part of what makes the aforementioned church scene amazing, but he equips himself well both in that role and as a semi-serious spy. Taron Egerton grows as an actor as the movie progresses alongside the growth his character has. Samuel L. Jackson is a riot as the villain, and is joined by Sofia Boutella as his sidekick, a girl with blades for feet. Mark Strong and Michael Caine are strong on-screen presences, and Mark Hamill has a cameo — the character he plays in the movie was “Mark Hamill” in the comic books. It’s a good cast that just elevates an already good film to be even better.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is a movie containing a lot of humor, a strong cast, and some of the best action you’ll get in any given year. It’s juvenile and a little bit stupid, but that’s perfectly acceptable. Its actors are enjoyable, its action is wonderfully directed, and it’s simply a good time watching a movie.