Let me start off this review by saying I love action movies. And I mean love love. Gladiator is one of my favorite films, and I’d choose an action flick over a romantic comedy any day. (Confession time: I love action comedies even more. Put Rowan Atkinson in a James Bond tux and I’m a happy camper.) Kingsman: The Secret Service was promoted as an action comedy, so I thought it would be right up my alley. Unfortunately, it really wasn’t.
Kingsman is a modern take on the classic “King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table” legend, mixed in with a bit of a “My Fair Lady” plot. Newcomer Taron Egerton stars as Eggsy, a delinquent youth who is mixed in with a bad crowd. Secret agent Harry Hard (Colin Firth) takes Eggsy under his wing and introduces him to Kingsman, a secret service agency. The agents at Kingsman work under “Arthur” (Michael Cane) and each agent is named after one of King Arthur’s Knights. Firth’s character is Galahad, the agency’s tech master is Merlin, and another agent’s code name is Lancelot. The agents also operate under the belief that “Manners Maketh Man,” and they conduct their spy business in perfectly tailored bulletproof suits. Like James Bond, the Kingsman have an arsenal of high tech gadgets, such as bulletproof umbrellas, stun-gun rings, and zippo-lighter shaped grenades.
The villain, a billionaire named Valentine (played by Samuel L. Jackson), believes that humanity is killing the Earth, and he wants to fix the problem by culling the human race. He gives out millions of free phones that can be activated to brainwash the population. Valentine was an overdone villain, as is common in Bond-esq films. Though he indirectly murdered hundreds of people, Valentine can’t handle seeing any violence or blood, and his henchwoman, Gazelle, does all of the dirty work.
My main problem with the film is its insane overuse of violence and offensive language. Innocent people and agents alike are indiscriminately and violently murdered left and right. At one point, an entire church congregation is brainwashed; men, women, and children alike begin murdering one another, leaving no survivors. In one of the final scenes, Valentine sends out a signal that causes hundreds of people’s heads to explode in colorful, trippy mushroom clouds. Throughout the movie, the characters also swear over one hundred times, and in my opinion, the swearing takes a lot of the class out of the “gentlemen agents.”
The hyper-graphic violence of the film was so overwhelming that I had a difficult time following the plot. I also had a hard time feeling any sympathy for the characters. The only time I felt any genuine sympathy was when Eggsy was told to kill his dog to become an agent – and, of course, the only sympathy I felt was for the dog. (You just can’t kill dogs in films. You can’t!) Thankfully Eggsy didn’t kill his little pug, but the film was so gratuitously violent that I genuinely thought he might.
Overall, the film did have a few comedic elements, but they were strongly contrasted against the unnecessary violence and ultimately seemed out of place. If you want to see an ultra-violent and obscene flick, I’d say this film is for you. Otherwise, steer clear!