Made In Britain: Kingsman

Kingsman poster

Well, colour me surprised. After the terminally shit Kick Ass and Kick Ass 2, and the less than wholly whelming (to put it mildly) X: Men prequel, I’d written Matthew Vaughan off as someone that had it once, lost it, and cannae get it back. As such, and given that Kingsman was from a funnybook by Mark Millar, I had the film also written off as another lame Bond spoof along the lines of Jonny English. Except, given Millar’s involvement, probably more unpleasant. Imagine my surprise, when it proved to be quite entertaining and a highly watchable, albeit flawed, film- so much better than I thought it was going to be.

Contains Harry Palmer Gentlemen Spies and spoilers below

Kingsman: The Secret Service is an elite group of agents operating at above government level, so as to be unburdened by the limits of bureaucracy. Star Agent “Galahad”, Harry (Colin Firth), has a bit of a guilt complex regarding unremarkable chav Eggsy (Taron Egerton), as he feels responsible for the death of Eggsy’s father. As such, he recruits Eggsy to the Kingsman initiation programme. In the meantime, nefarious villain Valentine(a hugely annoying Samuel L. Jackson), has concocted a typically Bond Villain-esque plan to eliminate the majority of the human race for the good of the environment. Shenanigans ensue.

Channel 4 were hugely impressed by the cast of Made in Chelsea 2015. If only the could get the little oik on the right to fuck off.

Channel 4 were hugely impressed by the cast of Made in Chelsea 2015. If only they could get the little oik on the right to fuck off.

I find myself torn on this one. On one hand, it’s highly, highly likable, yet on the other Kingsman is kind of smug and referential. I might even go as far as saying, heaven forbid, that it’s desperately trying to be meta. The entire film is played with a nod and a wink at the audience as it messes with the conventions of spy films that we all know and love. Particularly egregious is the sequence with Firth and Jackson having dinner where they even discuss their espionage cinema preferences.

Egerton is good, in fact, I’d almost say he’s great as Eggsy. Plays the likely lad chav aspect of it with a real twinkle in his eye, and seems to be having an absolute blast in the role. He’s a find, this lad, and definitely in the Jack O’Conner one to watch bracket. Firth, channeling Michael Caine, is on great form too, and there’s a wealth of decent cameos, including one from Mark Hamill. Caine, incidentally, appears in the film and seems to be almost ringing it in. Across the board, actually, the acting from everyone, from veterans such as Mark Strong to unknowns such as Sophie Cookson is generally spot on. With the notable exception of Samuel L. Jackson’s excruciating turn.

"Was that really an inner leg measurement, or were you just trying to feel me cock?"

“Was that really an inner leg measurement, or were you just trying to feel me cock?”

At one point, Jackson and Firth discuss that a Spy movie is only as good as the villain. Thankfully, they’re wrong, as if this was the case, then Kingsman would be fucking terrible. Jackson, frankly, sucks. The character is overwritten to the point of archness, and why Jackson decided to make this worse by adding an annoying lisp to the performance is a question best pointed at Matthew Vaughan.

The plot as mentioned above is intentionally overblown and silly- it’s a variation on the classic Bond supervillain plot, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, seeing as the last few dour and shit Bond outings had villains with no scope to their evil- Skyfall, for example, was just another “revenge on MI6” gig a la countless other films (Goldeneye leaping to mind) with an extra dose of mummy issues thrown in. At least Valentine wants to kill millions of people using advanced technology, which makes a nice change from most modern spy films.

Church is always boring, but there's no need for violence.

Church is always boring, but there’s no need for violence.

Then there’s the violence. Holy fuck is this film violent. The stand out set piece of the movie is probably the church sequence, where the body count rises to simply alarming levels, all brutally offed. I’m not squeamish when it comes to violence, not at all, but I found the way this scene was filmed with the combination of douchebag tricks and unnecessary slow motion etc off putting and overly stylised, an accusation you could aim at much of the film from script level upwards. In fact (and I’ve now seen it twice as I’ve been staring at this review for so long I ended up having to rewatch the movie), I’d say this scene is meant to be the calling card of the entire film, but is actually the most off putting and irritating section of the whole movie.

I love a good exploding head scene as much as the next person. This is not a good exploding head scene.

I love a good exploding head scene as much as the next person. This is not a good exploding head scene.

All in all, I’m about done here. Kingsman is an OK film. At times, it borders on highly entertaining (almost all of the training sequences), and it plays out in a pleasingly light and colourful way, but it is one that is hugely flawed on many levels. Nonetheless, this is easily Vaughan’s best film since Stardust, and shits all over practically every other film that I’ve seen this year. Do I recommend it? yes, at a pinch, but in comparison to the other summer movies, it’s an absolute stormer. However, at the end of the day, it’s only an OK movie- and that’s more of an indictment of the rest of the shite released in 2015 than anything else. It’s worth noting that my opinion of Kingsman has actually benefited from seeing utter shite like Avengers 2, and Mad Max Fury Road, but I’m not convinced that this makes it an actual “good” film. Nevertheless, have it’s approved, albeit cautiously and with reservations.


Incidentally, I know this is unlikely to happen, but when Craig hangs up the tux, I’d like them to retire Mendes and give Vaughan the Bond job- he’d at least bring back some levity and entertainment to what has become an increasingly dour and joyless franchise.

PS- As mentioned above, I’ve seen this twice now and the version I’ve got doesn’t have the tasteless gag about the Princess in it. Given what I’ve heard about the joke, I’d find this “edited” version if I were you.

Next time out is one of the 3 best films of 2015 so far: Ex_Machina- which proves, finally, that Garland doesn’t always have to have a 3rd act meltdown.

Until then,


Made in Britain

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

25 responses to “Made In Britain: Kingsman”

  1. Xiphos0311 says :

    Entertaining but highly flawed sums up Kingsman perfectly.

    • Jarv says :

      Yeah. Hard film to review, to be honest.

      How shit has this year been, when what is basically an acceptable movie is one of the better films?

      I wasn’t kidding as well- give Vaughan Bond.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        After seeing Man From UNCLE I say give Guy Ritchie a go on Bond and have Henry Cavil become 007. I would also be OK with Vaugh hell almost anybody but the current stiff they have directing might be a better choice. Christ those movies suck so bad now. They’ve managed to suck all the fun out of escapist Bond movies.

        This is arguably the worst year in cinema ever.

  2. Judge Droid says :

    Goldeneye was not just a ‘revenge on MI6’ movie. It also had a great, stupid Bond villain get rich quick plot. I really like Goldeneye.

  3. Judge Droid says :

    I mostly agree with this review. I enjoyed the film more than I thought I would. Much to my surprise, because I usually reject these types of scenes, the point I disagree on is the church scene. Yes, it’s over stylised and a little bit too pleased with itself (which pretty much sums up Vaughn) but I thought it was a great scene.

    Firth, Strong and the main kid are good. I liked the henchwoman as well. But fuck me SLJ was shit. The fucking lisp. Annoying doesn’t even begin to describe it.

    Overall it’s one of the best I’ve seen this year. That depresses me.

  4. Judge Droid says :

    The problem with the joke being edited out is that it’s really poorly cut. It’s like an edited for TV version. I googled it afterwards to find out what was cut out. Considering the ultra violence that had preceded it, I find it a saddening that the thing that gets censored is a crap joke about sex.

  5. Just Pillow Talk says :

    I did not like this. I will agree that Egerton is the best thing about this, and I liked Strong. Everything else is average to shit. The church scene I thought was the absolutely low point in the film, utterly pointless and went on too long.

  6. ThereWolf says :

    Good stuff, Jarv.

    I had written Vaughan off; I’m fine with Kick Ass, but Cack Ass 2 is appalling. Can’t even remember the X-Men prequel.

    I’ll give Kingsman a rental.

  7. Dan O. says :

    Good review Jarv. Not Vaughn’s best, but still a bunch of fun as is.

  8. tombando says :

    Sounds peachy, just avoiding it for the Kickass pedigree. Might try it.

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