Kingsman: The Secret Service is, in many ways, a throwback to the spy movies of old. It doesn’t hesitate to be self-referential, with references to over-the-top maniacal villains, bizarre henchmen, and suave and sophisticated spies. All the same, the action and violence are modern, with raw violence and and tightly choreographed fight sequences that flow together in a fashion that’s fun to watch, absurdly superhuman, and designed to make you laugh just as much as some of the one liners.
So why am I reviewing it when I normally review only science fiction or fantasy movies? Well, I had a few extra minutes and I think some of the science and much of the plot can fit into the science fiction and fantasy realms. It’s a fun, exciting, movie, with a couple of genuinely emotional scenes and a lot of chuckle-worthy one-liners and sequences. What it isn’t is a movie that you can come away from with anything deeper than that. If you try to make sense of some of the twists and turns, you’ll just give yourself a headache.
The basic premise is easy enough to follow, self-made billionaire and philanthropist turns villainous and has a twisted and convoluted plot to achieve his goals. The Kingsmen, spies who answer only to themselves, lose a member and must replace him. The story then follows Eggsy, who is recruited into their training program by one of the spies who worked with his deceased father. I won’t go into further details to save on spoilers, but I will say that Eggsy’s outfit drove me nuts, a sure sign that I’m getting old. Some part of me just wanted to rip the flat-brimmed ball cap off his head, much less tell him to tie his shoes. Still, by the end of it, Eggsy has completed his transformation and become someone who is a true gentleman as they said earlier in the movie: “A true gentleman is not better than others, he is better than the man he once was.” While that bit of contemplation is about as deep as the movie goes, it was an interesting shift as his character developed throughout the movie, until he finally stood on his own.
This movie’s action sequences are not, by any measure, tame. Thankfully it doesn’t go the route of many current action films based off comic books (this one is as well, if you read those), and they don’t use too much CGI blood. What they do have is a lot of it as well as a lot of violence. In the opening bit the exotic hench-woman bifurcates a man and about a half dozen people are brutally killed. There is one sequence, in particular where people are shot, stabbed, impaled, bludgeoned to death, impaled some more, and well… you get the idea. The exploding heads sprinkled throughout just add that extra bit of shock factor, I suppose. Even so, it is tremendously entertaining and you aren’t left feeling much sympathy for those who get murdered. Especially in the case of those whose heads do, indeed, explode.
All in all, I’d recommend seeing the movie as a fun night out. It’s not, by any stretch, a profound or deep movie, but it’s a lot of fun and it doesn’t hesitate to poke fun at itself, which is probably why it works so well.