“This ain’t that kind of movie, bruv”
Kingsman: The Secret Service was one of those movies that just came out of nowhere but hit me just right. Now, it’s on my list of movies I can endlessly rewatch and fall in love with over and over again.
Kingsman was released in February 2014. I had seen a couple of the trailers and thought it looked pretty cool, but I was never that interested in spy movies. This wasn’t a Marvel or Star Wars movie that I already had an emotional connection to.
But, Kingsman just happened to come out the same weekend as Fifty Shades of Grey – a movie that I was very much against (which is a story for another time) and did not want to do well at the box office. So I brilliantly thought that going to see this new Kingsman movie would be a contribution against Fifty Shades. Kingsman ultimately came in second place to Fifty Shades in its opening weekend, but it immediately jumped to number one in my heart.
I had no idea what I was getting into with this movie, but holy cow did I love everything about it. Like I said, I’ve never been big on spy movies – James Bond, Jason Bourne and Mission: Impossible have never really appealed to me that much. Kingsman, though, is a spy movie turned up to 11. More action, more blood, more cursing, more British.
Kingsman follows Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, a poor kid from London, as he discovers the world of a secret spy agency. Eggsy is recruited by agent Harry Hart to replace a recently fallen spy. Eggsy has to compete against other recruits to become the next Kingsman. Meanwhile, the agents work to stop Richmond Valentine, a tech billionaire who is intent on killing millions of people across the globe in order to protect the earth and its environment. Valentine describes humanity as a virus, and believes global warming is the earth’s “fever” in response. He concocts a scheme to give everyone in the world a free SIM card that offers free internet forever – no more carrier charges or phone bills ever again. Naturally, the world sprints (no pun intended) to pick up these SIM cards, but little do they know that Valentine has the ability to control them through the cards and make them unnaturally violent.
At its heart, Kingsman is one of those odd couple kind of movies. Eggsy and Harry discuss this idea in an early scene, name-dropping My Fair Lady and Pretty Woman. Eggsy learns that becoming a Kinsman is not about fitting a specific mold, but learning to better himself and bring the skills he has into this new world. At every test, Eggsy is able to find success not because he’s doing what he’s told, but because he’s using his own talents in new ways. Sure, he learns some Kingsman tricks along the way, but he becomes more confident in his own skills throughout the movie.
Taron Egerton is the breakout star of this movie. He’s instantly likable and endearing as Eggsy and watching him enter this strange world is delightful. The supporting cast of Kingsman is ridiculous. Colin Firth as Harry Hart, Mark Strong as the Kingsman version of Bond’s Q, Merlin, and Jack Davenport (from Pirates of the Caribbean) as an unlucky agent are inspired casting as stereotypical posh Brits.
Then there’s Samuel L. Jackson as Valentine, who probably had more fun in this role than he’s had in a long time and really steals the show. Jackson gives Valentine a lisp, which is a little off-putting when you first hear it, but becomes menacing when it counts. Sofia Boutella is Valentine’s delightfully strange henchman Gazelle, and Michael Caine and a wild Mark Hamill cameo round out the main cast.
The action in this movie is really what sets it apart from others of the genre. It’s simultaneously beautiful and brutal. The crowning set piece is the church fight. Shot to feel like one continuous take, it’s a wild ride from start to finish and every time I watch it, I see something new that is both horrifying and incredible to look at. All the other action sequences in the movie are equally impressive. I especially love the skydiving scene – it’s so effective at building the tension and making you stress out with the characters. Every action scene really feels unique and keeps you engaged throughout the entire movie.
This movie is also hilarious. Since it’s partially a satire of spy movies, there’s a lot of self-aware and tongue-in-cheek jokes that poke fun at the genre as a whole. And it seriously has some of the best one-liners in any movie I’ve ever seen. It’s the kind of dry British humor that I can’t get enough of. You’ll never hear “Pomp and Circumstance” the same way after you see this movie, and the finale set to KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Give It Up” is inspired.
Kingsman came into my life with no hype, no background knowledge, and no expectations. Maybe that’s why it hit me as hard as it did. What could have been a bland James Bond knockoff was bolstered by incredible characters, insane action, and great humor, which earns it a spot in my all-time top 10.