Children of Bond - Kingsman: The Secret Service
The Secret Service is a cheeky and very entertaining 2014 Matthew
Vaughn fusion of John Steed, Bond, and chav culture. It is based on the
comic book series by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. Fast, fun, crude,
unashamedly British and deliberately wonky, Kingsman is a hell of a lot
more fun than sitting through the last batch of Bond films. Matthew
Vaughn had actually already riffed on James Bond in even more style
with his prequel X-Men: First Class. "I nearly directed a Bond [film],"
said Vaughn (presumably in reference to the fact that he was briefly in
the frame to direct Casino Royale), "and I didn’t get the chance, but
you know, if you can’t beat 'em, join 'em, or if you can’t join 'em,
beat 'em, whatever the expression is."
central character in Kingsman is Gary "Eggsy" Unwin (Taron Egerton).
Eggsy is a young man with a troubled past, living in a council estate
in London. He is recruited by Harry Hart/Galahad, played by Colin
Firth, and discovers that his late father was once a member of a secret
spy organisation called Kingsman. Harry Hart is more or less a modern
day John Steed and even has a gadget festooned umbrella. By the way, I
like the way the hero Eggsy is basically a chav. Chav is a derogatory
term used in England to describe a certain cultural stereotype -
typically associated with young people from poor working-class
backgrounds. Chavs are often depicted as being poorly educated, wearing
cheap tracksuits, and engaging in yobbish antisocial behaviour.
IS a chav but he turns out to be good decent person and even a hero.
That's a nice positive spin on the chav stereotype. Kingsman has a
pleasant message that anyone, regardless of their social class and
background, can prove their worth, improve their circumstances, and
make a difference. Kingsman: The Secret Service also explores the theme
of mentorship. Harry takes Eggsy under his wing, guiding him throughout
his training and teaching him valuable life lessons. This relationship
showcases the importance of compassion, loyalty, and the responsibility
of passing on knowledge to the next generation. It is through this bond
that Eggsy discovers his true potential and transforms into a confident
and capable agent.
agency, headed by Arthur (Michael Caine), is an ultra-secret
organisation that operates independently of governments. They are a
group of highly skilled agents who perform covert operations to protect
the world from threats. With their superb combat skills, refined
manners, and impeccable wardrobe, they represent the epitome of a
modern-day gentleman spy. In the (weaker) sequel we meet the Statesmen
- the American version of the Kingsman. It seems that each version of
Kingsman represents that nation's stereotypical cultural tradition of
'badass' heroes. So in the United States it is sharpshooting teak tough
cowboys whereas in Britain it is the James Bond/John Steed gentleman
spy. Presumably in Japan it would be Ninjas or something and so on.
Kingsman impresses from start to finish, with stylishly choreographed
fight scenes that are flawlessly executed. Vaughn's aptitude for
crafting exciting action sequences shines throughout the film,
showcasing a level of creativity and excitement rarely seen in recent
spy movies. The infamous church scene, a long-take that turns into a
thrilling, high-octane carnage, is particularly memorable. The plot
revolves around tech-billionaire Richmond Valentine, played by Samuel
L. Jackson, who presents himself as an eco-warrior aiming to save the
planet from climate change. Little does the world know that his true
plan involves wiping out a significant portion of the human population.
This satirical take on villainous motives raises questions about the
morality of those with power and their true intentions. Villainy wears
many masks; none so dangerous as the mask of virtue, as Ichabod Crane
Colin Firth's portrayal
of the suave yet lethal Harry Hart is a standout, demonstrating his
range in effortlessly switching between charm and ruthlessness. Taron
Egerton's Eggsy delivers a nice balance of determination and
vulnerability, evolving into a likable protagonist. Eggsy wins a place
in our heart when he refuses to shoot a dog in the Kingsman training
test (he doesn't know the gun has blanks). The film also boasts a
strong supporting cast, including Mark Strong (who is sort of like this
film's version of Q) and Sofia Boutella, all adding depth and charisma
to their respective roles. Sofia Boutella as Gazelle makes a great
henchwoman with her deadly blades for feet and her battle with Eggsy at
the end is one of the highlights of the film. This scene, like many
others, has some obvious nods to the James Bond series.
doesn't take itself too seriously, injecting moments of levity and
self-awareness into the storyline. I gather that the CGI was
deliberately wonky too to give the film the feeling of a comic book.
The dialogue is sharp and witty at times and the film races past at a
good clip (only really threatening to stretch our patience, or mine at
any rate, when they keep going back to the crazed mother with her baby
locked in the bathroom). The music is pretty good too with some
stirring cues for the spy themed mayhem. The film isn't devoid of
faults. It occasionally veers the line between being an enjoyable
homage to the spy genre and crossing into over-the-top, absurd
territory. The violence may not be to everyone's taste and some viewers
may find certain scenes excessively graphic or gruesome (though the
gore is negated by being obvious CGI - CG gore and blood splats always
seem much tamer to me than practical old school blood and gore).
The Secret Service is basically like an R-rated souped up Bond film
that is much more comic book and tongue-in-cheek than the modern Bond
films. This style is a trifle too glib and flashy to really work in a
Bond film but, purely taken on its own terms, Kingsman is a nice
antidote to the fad for a lot of modern spy adventure films (like the
Craig Bonds and Jason Bourne) to be somewhat dour and serious. I like
the first three Bourne films quite a lot but they are fairly humourless
in style and tone. It doesn't have the lavish budget (truth be told,
Kingsman looks a bit cheap in places) of a Bond film but Kingsman: The
Secret Service is just out to give you a good time and it does this
admirably with lashings of fun and action. The expanded climax where
Eggsy is running through the 1960s style secret base fighting off gun
toting goons is very entertaining.
visual aesthetics play a pivotal role in establishing its identity. The
filmmakers use a vibrant, almost cartoonish colour palette that pops
off the screen. This, combined with sleek and fashionable costume
designs, creates a visually distinct world within the movie. The
attention to detail in the production design is evident, further
enhancing the overall experience. The Kingsman organisation draws its
inspiration from King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table,
highlighting the story's theme of old-fashioned heroism in a modern
context. Kingsman manages to feel both fresh and nostalgic, capturing
the spirit of classic spy films while infusing it with contemporary
impresses as the intelligent and loyal tech expert, Merlin, bringing an
understated toughness to his role. Michael Caine lends his gravitas and
presence to the role of Arthur, the Kingsman's leader. I love the
moment where Caine's facade drops and his accent completely changes.
The chemistry between the cast members enhances the film's overall
quality, making even the smallest interactions enjoyable to watch.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is a modern spy film that stands out from
the rest of the genre because it doesn't take itself too seriously. It
successfully combines stylish action sequences with humour and
compelling characters, showcasing a unique take on the spy movie
formula. The film's visual aesthetics, clever writing, and impressive
cast make it an enjoyable experience. With its underdog hero and crazy
action scenes, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a fun watch for anyone
seeking a slightly different take on the modern spy film landscape.