A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Sophisticated and action-packed espionage fun-fests are more than commonplace nowadays. It seems that although Bond films are still as popular as ever, satire and obvious heavy inspiration can be found in many of the recent releases dealing with the similar spy-based themes. This year alone we’ll be treated to “Spy”, “The Man from U.N.C.L.E” and of course “Spectre”, all on top of producer-turned-director Matthew Vaughn’s latest, “Kingsman: The Secret Service”.
Making a name for himself after the highly successful and unique “Kick-Ass” and “X:Men: First Class”, Vaughn is continuing his run of comic book themed flicks with one of 2015’s most anticipated pictures. His fifth directed feature, “Kingsman” was certainly a film I was holding out for, so how did it perform?
I am happy to report that the experience was most enjoyable, but it wasn’t perfect.
Being so unashamedly inspired by 007, “Kingsman” takes all the cliche traits and features of a suave and untouchable suited-up thrill-ride and adds some comic book flair into the mix. What is essentially “Kick-Ass” meets Bond, “Kingsman” tells the story of rough, uncouth Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton) and his recruitment into the highly prestigious spy organisation known as Kingsman.
After proving himself against fellow competitors in the mother of all initiation courses, Eggsy experiences what it means to be part of Kingsman up close and personally through the mentoring and demonstration from Harry Hart, an experienced and eloquent epitome of the classic British agent.
Proper, poised and proud, Hart is a strange character, so are his fellow agents for that matter.
They’re such parodies of themselves that the audience could easily begin to lose focus and not take them seriously. What’s important with a film such as “Kingsman” is that it’s a film that’s meant to be taken with a grain of salt. It’s a film that dangles on the border between comedy and serious action all too often, and just like “Kick-Ass”, Vaughn has managed to capture the balance almost perfectly. Okay, the story seems to hold up, as does the the structure. So what’s the issue with “Kingsman”?
The answer simply comes down to the characters, more specifically, the antagonists. I’ve heard a few complaints and qualms surrounding the villains of “Kingsman”, and I tend to agree after seeing it for myself. Valentine (played by Samuel L. Jackson) is the films central villain, and his identity is made clear from the offset. A villain traditionally has a weakness, a soft spot, their own kryptonite. Valentine’s is the sight of blood and the pronunciation of the letter ‘S’…
Valentine is a very transparent villain that really doesn’t fit into the film at all. Snapback and all, Valentine’s look and overall build appears to represent a deliberate contrast to the overly gentlemanly heroes of the picture. Furthermore, the classic Bond villain trope of an unordinary ailment can be found in both his distain of blood and the tiresome lisp.
Continuing with the shameless Bond tropes to be found in “Kingsman”, Valentine’s sidekick is more or less Goldfinger’s right hand man Oddjob. Equipped with razor blade stilts for legs, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) slices and dices her way through the film, albeit far too briefly. For all the hype surrounding this empowered, domineering assassin, Gazelle’s part to play in the grand scheme of things is very disappointing.
She has her moments of badassery, however they’re short lived whilst being few and far between.
Moreover, one of the promotional posters for “Kingsman” included the infamous “female leg framing” approach. Personally, I can’t think of many other styles of movie posters that grind my gears more, however I’m willing to forgive “Kingsman” as it appears rather tongue-in-cheek.
We will definitely be seeing more of Taron Egerton! This wunderkind is a supremely confident actor with a long and prosperous future ahead of him. His show-stealing efforts in “Kingsman” have undoubtedly opened countless doors for him, and I for one am excited to see where he pops up next. Like the rapid and enormous success of Australian Margot Robbie, I’m predicting a similar slew of big-budget blockbusters being offered up to Egerton in the not too distant future. His screen presence is one of the major reasons, if not the primary reason, as to why I enjoyed the film as much as I did. The mismatched chemistry with Colin Firth and the subtle, naturalistic humour exhibited are just a couple of qualities indicative of a flourishing career ahead for the Welsh boyo.
“Kingsman” was an excellent romp with well choreographed action, clever dialogue and familiar qualities taken from Vaughn’s past feature of “Kick-Ass”. Understandably so as both comics have the same author in Mark Millar. It’s fantastic to see both Colin Firth add some brute force and action to his usual suave self, whilst it’s also great to see a young talent emerging right in front of our eyes in Taron Egerton.
The story structure may be slightly similar to Millar and Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass”, however “Kingsman” offers up something completely new as well as an in-your-face mockery/tribute to the classic cinematic British spy. The antagonists aren’t overly impressive and feel rather disconnected to the theme of the film, but that’s probably the point.
Nevertheless, a more satisfying set of villains would have made the overall experience a lot more enjoyable.
If you enjoy hard-hitting action, some genuine laughs, moments of deliberate vulgarity and another scene-stealing movie Pug, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is definitely for you!