Kingsman: The Secret Service, an action satire of the spy genre starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, and Michael Caine!
From James Bond to Jason Bourne, I love spy movies! They are the movies I grew up watching, and Kingsman: The Secret Service takes the spy genre parodies and deconstructs, yet honors, the spy genre all at the same time. But is it a good movie? Let's find out.
My viewing of Kingsman is a bit different than other recent films that I have reviewed. Long story short, I watched Kingsman by myself and enjoyed it fairly well, wrote a first draft review, and about a week later I watched it again, except with my dad, an avid James Bond fan. Thanks to a variety of reasons, including different expectations, Kingsman was quite a bit better on a second viewing with my score being raised by more than a point and an overall more positive impression. Therefore, this is my rewritten review based on my second viewing.
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Genre: Action, Spy, Espionage, Action Comedy,
Release Date: 13 February 2015
Running Time: 129 minutes
MMPA rating: R
The Good: "Free Bird" action scene is mind blowing, Mix of serious and parody, Strong performances, Stylized action, Spy gadgets, Shocking twists, Humorous spy jokes, Smart deconstruction of spy movie elements, Colin Firth is exceptional and does many of his own stunts,
The Bad: Loses a little steam after 2nd Act, Overly silly towards the end, Potentially offensive, Spotty special effects, Pointless swearing,
Warning: Kingsman is rated R for mature content and is not suitable for some viewers.
Plot: 8.4/10- Despite parodying many aspects of the spy genre, Kingsman: The Secret Service is surprisingly competent, albeit intentionally silly. The film directly references that it isn't the typical Bond spy flick and makes fun of the tropes, while still honoring the genre and taking it in a darker, more logical direction at times. However, after the 2nd Act, certain parts of the film go a bit too far into silly stupid territory and disrupt the flow of the film. Without spoiling anything, after a certain big plot twist at the end of Act 2, the movie had me hooked. I began wondering if this was the second best movie of the year. Unfortunately, the movie does not necessarily fall apart, but it does lose steam. However, this misstep felt far more forgivable on the second viewing.
There are two aspects of the film that do not necessarily impact the overall score, yet still bother me. The first is the absolutely pointless amount of swearing. It felt lazy and added nothing to the film. Of course, my personal issue will not affect the overall score. The second issue is different. *Minor spoilers* The infamous scene in the church scene featuring a cult massacre can be rather offensive to some, but ultimately, it's the villain that's causing it, so it wasn't extremely offensive to me personally. The brutal battle itself is incredible, but it is understandable if you were offended. *End Spoiler*
Characterization: 8.7/10- Despite being a satire, Kingsman's characters are surprisingly well realized. Thanks to the actors superb performances, Galahad and Eggsy are likable characters. Eggsy goes through the best character arc, while Galahad is a majorly cool character with tons of style because “manners maketh man.” The villain, Richmond Valentine, is an intentionally silly and over-the-top, but he works fairly well as Bond-esque parody.
Direction: 9.5/10- Matthew Vaughn's action direction is absolutely insane! The first big action sequence with Colin Firth is entertaining, a bit humorous, and superbly directed. The aforementioned church fight scene, set to the song "Free Bird," by Lynyrd Skynyrd, is one of the most insane, brutal, and incredibly well directed action sequences ever. It may be too brutal for some, but as a fan of hardcore action direction, this fight scene is immaculate. Comparatively, the other action sequences are weaker, yet still fun, entertaining, and mostly well done, except for the spotty special effects.
Acting: 8.7/10- Colin Firth kills it as Galahad! He is said to have done many of his own stunts, and he really brings class to the film. Taron Egerton is a relative newcomer, and he is great as Eggsy. He makes the character likable and relatable, while still believing he has skills. Samuel L. Jackson plays the villain with a lisp and a weak stomach for violence. This is not Jackson's best role by any means, and some might straight up hate his character, but he works, and did not drag down the film for me. Everyone else from Michael Caine to Mark Strong is great.
Special effects: 6.2/10- Easily the weakest aspect, Kingsman's $81 million budget shows as some of the special effects miss the mark. The green screen is a bit obvious at times as well. Thankfully, the parody nature of the film makes the mistakes a little more forgivable and doesn't kill the flow of the movie.
Soundtrack: 8.5/10- Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson's score fits the film very well, with a score reminiscent of Jackman's score from X-Men: First Class. Another highlight of the soundtrack is the use of licensed music, including "Free Bird" by Lynyrd Skynyrd and "Money for Nothing" by Dire Straits are perfectly used.
Humor: 8.4/10- Kingsman is part comedy, yet not truly a comedy. However, it is often funny. For the most part, the humor is well delivered and often witty. There are not too many laugh-out-loud jokes, at least not when you are watching it alone, although it is funnier with friends. Generally, the comedy does not fall into the traps of vulgarity and crudeness, which is rare of R rated comedies, yet that fact makes it all the more hilarious and smart. There is a joke at the very end that is somewhat off putting and might bother some viewers.
Entertainment Value: 9.7/10- Upon my first viewing, the film started to lose me towards the end. However, on the second watch, it was even more enjoyable, and the excellently pacing really showed. Heck, the movie is worth a third viewing; it’s just that much fun, especially for spy movie fans!
Overall: 9.2/10- Kingsman: The Secret Service is witty, satirical, smart, and crazy fun for spy movie fans! It might not have convinced me of its quality until my second viewing, but Kingsman: The Secret Service is one of the best movies of 2016 and an entertaining gem that brings over 70 years of spy movies together into one cohesive package.
Closing comments: 2015 was a year full of spy flicks and Kingsman: The Secret Service stands as the strongest one. Action junkies and spy fans should definitely give Kingsman: The Secret Service a watch, assuming the R rating isn't too much for you.
Recommended for: Spy fans, Action fans, Colin Firth fans, Parody fans, Matthew Vaughn fans
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