The spy movie genre hasn’t exactly been a genre that’s starving for content. With the new Bond, Bourne, and Mission Impossible films, I didn’t think there was a new spy film that would really catch my interest, since what kind of void would some new spy film fill? This thought process was swiftly proved wrong with the release of Kingsman: The Secret Service.
While the newer spy films have had plenty of action, the truth of the matter is that it has all become quite dry. And while Austin Powers is great for a spy comedy, I, and many others, were missing the old school Bond films that straddle the fine line of goofy fun and spy action. Here’s where this film comes in. It respects the new spy films, with two lead stars like Mark Strong and Colin Firth from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy who play mentor roles to the star Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, played by newcomer Taron Egerton, who is meant to be the sharp and charming leading man. However, he doesn’t start that way. He is offered a chance to join the elite, secret organization Kingsman, that has operated outside the rules of any government to do what is necessary. The spies within the agency have designations based on The Round Table, with the leader being Arthur, played by Michael Caine. After a vacancy is unfortunately placed at the table, Eggsy must strive to fulfill his potential.
Now, this certainly sounds very middle of the road in terms of spy films, but what sets it apart is the villain. Samuel L. Jackson plays billionaire philanthropist Richmond Valentine, and rather than being a ruthless duplicitous cretin, he’s a funny, but persuasive, and straight-forward character. He talks with a lisp and doesn’t have a taste for violence, but he is able to convince many to join his ranks through just statement of his plans. He’s a character that reminds me of many old Bond villains, he has a twisted sense of justice and morals, and he can’t even stomach watching his enemies die, you know, how Bond is able to escape every trap he’s placed in.
Another great feature of this film is the ridiculous action. There is a single scene, in the middle of the film, where a fight goes on for the entirety of the solo of “Free Bird” within a single take, and it’s one of the best fight scenes I’ve seen in a long time. This isn’t like the old fights Sean Connery had, where he just waits for Oddjob to throw his hat across the room, this is fast paced and well choreographed, and just to get a sense of what happens later in the films, Valentine’s assistant has prosthetic legs that are used as swords. Yes, it is awesome.
Kingsman is the kind of fun film I didn’t know I wanted to see, but I’m happy I did. It’s not going to be a groundbreaking, or the “new-old Bond” that I’m making it sound like, but it’s a great homage to what spy films used to be, which means to embrace a bit of the ridiculous. This is a good film for those missing the genre, and I doubt you’ll find something similar anytime soon.