James Bond finally has competition.

by Steve Pulaski

I remember the very first trailer for Kingsman: The Secret Service almost a year ago being rather unremarkable in the way it portrayed the action and spy genre, sort of seeing it as a spy film playing safe and not giving it much thought. However, when a release date of October 2014 was pushed back to February 2015, and the trailers began to become more prolific, it seemed that the marketing team behind the film started to deal with the film in an entirely new sense. The trailers became a riot, showing so much craziness and complete insanity that one wondered what would be left to show in the actual film. I went from a generally dismissive attitude to genuinely being excited for, what I saw, a something totally new and fresh.

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Directed by
Matthew Vaughn
Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson
Release Date
13 February 2015
Steve’s Grade: B+

Kingsman is exactly that; a film that slaughters convention and any and all expectations to create something completely unpredictable, zealous, and most importantly, highly enjoyable. The film opens by showing a mission in the Middle East, carried out by the honorable Kingsman, an elite spy organization. We see a Secret Agent by the name of Harry Hart (Colin Firth) try his best but fail to save the life of one of his fellow agents, leading him to deliver a medal of bravery to the man’s widow and young son. He tells the song, Eggsy, that if they ever need any assistance to call the phone number on the back of the medal and state a special message.

Seventeen years later, another Kingsman has fallen, leaving the organization questioning how to proceed against Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a wealthy inventor who is dolling out free cell phone service in efforts to control the population and his henchman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), equipped with sharp metal legs. Eggsy lives in London with his mother and abusive stepfather, and is arrested after stealing a thug’s car at a local pub with some friends. He uses his sole phone call in prison to call the number on the back of the medal given to him as a child, and is bailed out by Harry, who wants him recruited for the secret service agency known as Kingsman in efforts to stop Valentine and company.
[widgets_on_pages id=”AdSenseArticleBanner”]
The Kingsmen use a variety of sophisticated weaponry and fighting styles that would normally leave the untrained aggressor crippled and sore for weeks. Harry, however, is not an untrained aggressor, using suave tactics to brutalize his enemies or instigators and assure that justice be served in a fair manner. He takes Eggsy as his prodigy, showing him the ropes of a Kingsman and what it means to work for the organization, as it’s more than just umbrella guns, knives that propel out of dress shoes, and inconspicuous grenades.

Obviously, Kingsman is a blatant parody of the Bond franchise, but it is so in the best possible manner. Rather than lazily parodying character names, mannerisms, and proposing direct references to films of the franchise, writers Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class) lampoon style, which will always bear a greater longevity than mindless name-calling and spoofing in parodies. The key to the art of parody is in style and convention, which Goldman and Vaughn understand from the get-go. What results is an uproariously fun film that never runs out of energy and always provides something fresh in a currently overcrowded pool.

Kingsman wisely comes amidst a time where the superhero genre and the spy/espionage genre are in their primes, but never adhering too much to one particular side, creating a joyful hybrid rather than yet another project to get lost in a sea of others. In what looks to be a big year for the superhero/action genre, Kingsman provides those experiencing fatigue and dissatisfaction from the ubiquity of such projects with a pleasant sense of originality and style to their content that could’ve easily been just another example of muchness in a genre.

The film is likely to play nicely, with generally little competition in the same vein and an obvious push with communities like Reddit and 4chan embracing the content for its simultaneous slickness and uniqueness. Moreover, the film plays nicely for people simply looking for a cinematic experience that appears to have a pulse after a month of general ho-hum and mediocre releases. There’s an unabashed level of excitement the film bears during a time of unimpressive titles that will undoubtedly find ways to cheer up a crowd that has long been done a disservice so far this year.