The name’s Eggsy. Agent Eggsy.
For any of you who are planning on going into the moviemaking business, always keep one thing in mind: your audience. While most of them might be fairly desensitized and will enjoy senseless amounts of gore and violence, one or two of your audience members might not enjoy it as much, and indeed, might be so revolted by it that it affects their view of the whole picture. Does it really ruin all of the fun for everyone if you just tone down the blood and gore one or two notches? Just a few scenes can ruin a whole movie for your viewer, just like it did with me.
I know, I know, the movie probably wasn’t made for me since I’m being Mr. poopy pants by saying “ew” to blood. Can you blame me though? The MPAA rated Kingsman: The Secret Service R for “sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content.” They didn’t indicate how disturbing it was, or even how frequent and over-the-top it was either. Adding the word “intense” to any of the film’s rating descriptors would not have been inaccurate.
The plot is based on a Mark Millar comic series The Secret Service. A young man named Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) is a troublemaking rebel who steals cars and gets into fights when his mother’s jerk of a boyfriend isn’t beating him up. His many delinquencies land him in jail, where he is told he’s going to spend the next 18 years of his life.
Yes, I know his name is Eggsy. Go ahead and laugh. I’ll give you a minute.
Eventually, he is freed by Harry Hart (Colin Firth), a tailor who has a thing for good manners and tall pints. What Eggsy doesn’t know is that Hart isn’t really a tailor at all: he’s a british spy, working for a secret service called “The Kingsman”, the same service Eggsy’s father worked with before he died saving Harry’s life. Now feeling a need to repay Eggsy’s father, Harry gives Eggsy a chance to become a Kingsman himself: to change his destiny and become the “gentleman” his father always wanted him to be.
The film is written and directed by Matthew Vaughn. If you know anything about Vaughn, its that his films have a very strong reception to his core audience, which I guess is… who, exactly? Masochists? His films have received an equal amount of both support and controversy in the past, including among them Kick-Ass and X-men: First Class. I myself am not a fan of him. Kick-Ass was a morally degenerate and violent escapade even worse than this movie, including horrific scenes of torture and child violence. First Class on the whole wasn’t controversial as it was incoherent, ignoring the rest of the series canon like it was a reboot instead of the self-purported prequel it was selling itself as.
But I don’t look at the director as much as I look at the film itself. What was this movie trying to be? An action-comedy. Did it succeed in that? On the whole, yes. Kingsman: The Secret Service is a humorous and stylish escapade with cartoonish violence and action equivalent to that of a Mortal Kombat video game. It had two goals here: being funny and exciting. It fulfilled both.
There was a lot I liked here with Kingsman. First off, the film was casted well. Egerton’s spunky rebellious attitude clashes well with Firth’s firm sense of structure and order, and makes for some good scenes with strong comedic dialogue in them. Mark Strong is a solid supporting character here, serving here as an adept tech assistant instead of the usual villainous roles that he does in his movies. Samuel L. Jackson was perhaps the funniest as the film’s main antagonist. In a career where Jackson spitballs lines of dialogue like bullets in films like Jungle Fever, Pulp Fiction and The Avengers, it’s both unexpected and refreshing to see him here talking with a lisp and with a sour distaste for blood. What kind of baddie doesn’t like to look at blood and give lengthy villainous monologues?
The action, while preposterous, is both stylish and exciting. Characters punch, stab, flip, grab, kick, and shoot each other in skillfully choreographed positions and movements, taking each other out in uniquely different styles that I haven’t seen before. Imagine a cross between the usual James Bond martial-arts fighting with the gunplay you’d see in a Die Hard movie. That’s the type of combat you see in Kingsman: The Secret Service, and its a rare visual treat that got me really engaged into some of the movie’s greater fighting sequences.
All in all, I was really enjoying Kingsman: The Secret Service until it got into the third act. Then it took a nosedive straight into the pavement.
I’ll try as hard as I can to describe this without giving many spoilers. In one scene, a church congregation starts slaughtering each other after the pastor delivers an incredibly racist and prejudiced sermon that I think is supposed to resemble the ramblings of Fred Phelps from the Westboro Baptist Church. This is one of the more violent and disturbing sequences in the movie, with neck snapping and people stabbings and body contortions into convoluted shapes that I didn’t even think was possible for a dead human being. The scene, while stylish and entertaining, was also equally disturbing and out of place. I laughed out loud, but I didn’t know if it was out of enjoyment or shock.
Another scene involved a mother stabbing a door in a Jack Torrance-Shining style, trying to kill her one-year-old crying daughter. That one was too much for me. I don’t like seeing child violence or distress in movies. Unless you’re having it in there to make a point about parentage or childhood trauma, scenes like that aren’t ever necessary to a movie.
Overall, we have a really cohesive film that on the whole works really well. What backfired was simply one or two scenes that severely clashed with the film’s overall vision, moments that took me out of the fun I was having to make me insanely sickened and disgusted at what was going on the screen.
The last out-of-place scene was one where a woman was asking Eggsy for anal sex. I think that’s a metaphor for something.