Ever since secret agent James Bond became a film icon in 1962 there have been a ton of imitators. Even in 2015 we are seeing people poke fun at the British legend and now a comic book channeling the character is being adapted to the big screen. Kingsman: The Secret Service is a Mark Millar/Dave Gibbons project that has gotten the Matthew Vaughn treatment by becoming a slick, spy comedy. While watching Kingsman you are definitely going to be seeing a lot of subtle and no-so subtle nods to 007. But that also means there are the similar warts that come with the character.
The Kingsman follows ‘Eggsy’ (Taron Egerton), a street thug who is recruited by secret agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) to train as a spy and stop an internet magnate (Samuel L. Jackson) from depopulating the world. While Kingsman has beats of a Bond film like elaborate action scenes and exotic scenery it ultimately gets bogged down by endless training scenes. You know what Bond films do not have? Training scenes. This ultimately becomes about a kid who is ‘gifted’ to be the hero and not only do we get the usual clichés story wise with that it drags the film as well. If the film could cut a good portion of those scenes we would easily have a much more fast paced and fluid action film.
Fortunately the film is helped by having an entertaining cast to elevate the material. Colin Firth not only steals the film as the suave secret agent but believably becomes a badass action star when need be. Samuel L. Jackson also gives us an entertaining, complex, and completely insane villain to follow who has a lisp but good on this movie for not making that the joke. Taron Egerton does a serviceable job as ‘Eggsy’ although his character in general is not very well defined outside of his clothing. So when personal things happen to him he does not do much to make us care for his situation.
Since this is a Matthew Vaughn/Jane Goldman production a lot of emphasis is on the production and Kingsman goes all out. There is such an emphasis on a balance between posh and sleek you will be seeing a great mix of the two with how this organization operates. The action set pieces are also directed very well and you can easily see the carnage flow naturally. Although it must be said that some of the violence in this is very jarring despite the hard ‘R’ rating it got. A church scene late in the film involving Firth easily comes to mind as it becomes way too gory for what this film wants to be.
For better or worse Kingsman: The Secret Service is exactly like a James Bond film. You got sophisticated spies, a megalomaniac for a villain, and the sleekest of direction for the coveted action scenes. But like a Bond film it has a ton of issues including a slow pace, poorly defined characteristics, and also a poor view on women which becomes all but apparent by the final scene. Kingsman is one of those kind of films that, wherever you see it, just put your brain at the door and you will have a good time. If you want a James Bond kind of film to watch though would it not be easier to watch any of the twenty-three Bond films available?