“Kingman: The Secret Service” is a recent spy-action film based on the Mark Millar comic book series “The Secret Service.” The film stars Colin Firth as Harry Hart, a top agent of the secret spy service called the Kingsman. When one of his own is killed during a mission, he attempts to enlist the fallen agent’s son, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton), seventeen years later into the secret organization. The film follows Eggsy’s attempts at joining the Kingsman, while also focusing on an already in progress mission of the agency centered on the kidnapping of a professor, whose specialty is climate change. When Eggsy becomes embroiled in this mission, it becomes his turn to prove his worth at being a Kingsman.
When Professor James Arnold (Mark Hamill) is kidnapped by an unknown group of people, a Kingsman agent arrives to rescue him, only to be brought down by a bladed prosthetic leg wearing assassin named Gazelle (Sofia Boutella). At the loss of this Kingsman, the service enlists all of its members to offer up a single prospective recruit to replace the fallen comrade. Agent Hart, code named Galahad, brings Eggsy on as a prospective agent, and the group of trainees is given a series of tests, both outright and secretively. Meanwhile, Galahad is working to discover the secret plot of those who kidnapped Professor Arnold, directing him to look into internet maven and billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). When Valentine offers free internet and phone service via SIM cards to the public, the Kingsman are left to wonder what exactly his ploy is, all while trying to mold a new recruit into the agency’s empty slot.
The best thing about this film is the constant fun it pokes at itself and other films in the spy laden genre. When Eggsy and the other recruits are given puppies by the agency to take care of and raise, Eggsy opts to name his “JB.” Not after James Bond, or for Jason Bourne, but after Jack Bauer. When Valentine and Galahad meet, there is talk of spy films, and how this one is not like the others. It’s moments of awareness like these, where “Kingsman” pokes fun at itself, that give it a comedic virtue. It’s similar to the way the “Jump Street” franchise constantly drops punch line after punch line centered on its cop film genre.
Another plus about “Kingsman” is the ensemble and character that was put together for this. Jackson’s character Richmond Valentine is a garish cartoonish depiction of himself, his lisp acting in a Dr. Evil-esque way. His plan is equally Dr. Evil-esque, but for a reason it manages to work. The film blends serious mootness with comedic absurdity, mixed with action that straddles that same line from scene to scene. The film also has Michael Caine portraying Head Kingsman Chester King, while Mark Strong plays Merlin, Kingsman slated with the duty of overseeing the recruits’ progress. With Firth and newcomer Egerton—who fills his role like a freshly tailored suit—the cast is rounded out seamlessly, each character complementing one another in their stereotype.
In a foul view, the plot is lacking. While it largely makes no sense, it takes a while to understand what exactly the point is, and what Valentine is up to. Even when the film finally does make sense, it still doesn’t, the illogicality of it all leading to a massive huh moment. But even in that moment, there’s a charm to the comedic effort as the film trudges on, squeezing every last bit of wit from the character it possesses. Still, the uncertainty surrounding the type of film this is and the meandering direction the plot takes ultimately takes away from the overall experience, albeit in a limited capacity.
Overall, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is largely filled with amusement and intrigue, not even lending its two plus hours of viewership to a minute of drudgery. It’s fun from beginning to end, it’s cast well, and has an overall likeability factor to the nonsense it, in parts, elicits. While the plot has its moments of shoddiness, it’s overshadowed by the delight of the film as a whole. Action packed and humorous, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is, not so secretly, a great film.
Final grade? B+