Imagine what would happen if Quentin Tarantino directed a James Bond movie. Essentially, that is the result of “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” Though, in reality, it is directed by Matthew Vaughn, similarities to Tarantino’s style are evident throughout the film. Taking somewhat of a “Scream” approach to British spy films, the movie is a refreshing and entertaining take on the seemingly tired genre. The movie mixes familiar actors, such as Colin Firth as Galahad and Michael Caine as Arthur, with newcomers Taron Egerton as Eggsy and Sophie Cookson as Roxy, for a striking balance that does not rely heavily on the veterans to drive the movie, but rather the novices.
The plot of the movie is fairly straightforward. While training a potential new recruit, a test goes wrong that results in the death of Eggsy’s father. In delivering the news to the family, Galahad (Firth) gives a medal of bravery to Eggsy; a number is inscribed on its back, which may be called for a “favor.” Having lost his father at a young age, Eggsy is essentially your standard, untapped-potential character trope. His mother remarried your standard abusive stepfather, and this ultimately sends him on a downward spiral in life. After a run-in with the law, Eggsy phones the number on the back of the medal and is rescued by Galahad. From there, Galahad introduces Eggsy to the Kingsmen, an independent, international intelligence service founded by wealthy British lords without heirs. To replace a fallen Kingsman, Eggsy is put to the test to see if he is Kingsman material. Meanwhile, an eccentric, lisping, megabillionaire portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson threatens the safety of the world.
Undeniably the plot is not very inspiring. It is the same type of storyline you would expect in a James Bond movie. But, despite this bland plot, “Kingsman” does not take itself seriously. With little digs towards the spy genre, such as convoluted martini orders and gratuitous violence, it overcomes any shortcomings in the plot. Because it doesn’t take itself seriously, it is a fun movie to watch, especially since the humor goes beyond the crude and crass and gets into some really clever jokes (such as a clever Margaret Thatcher dig).
The portrayal of female characters in “Kingsman” was interesting. Being adapted from a comic book, one would not expect women to play such an independent role in the film. Roxy is one of the candidates for the Kingsmen and she’s easily able to keep up with the other male characters without too much trouble. Refreshingly, she’s also not there to be an object of affection for Eggsy. There were aspects of the film that were very unique: the main side-kick of the villain has prosthetic legs that have been modified to be weapons. She’s never a hindrance either, but is in fact one of the most formidable adversaries to the Kingsmen.
There are weak spots, to be sure. A few portions of the movie, such as the the humor, were perhaps a bit tacky and excessive. However, on the whole, the movie was a good experience. I wouldn’t rush to go see “Kingsman,” nor is it exactly Oscars or Golden Globe material. But, it is still a very fun movie that I would recommend.