Based on the 2012 comic, The Secret Service, by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar, Kingsman: The Secret Service was a fairly interesting movie, for a variety of reasons. The trailers told me it was something of an unorthodox action/spy/comedy feature, something in the vein of James Bond. While that was a good guess, it doesn’t quite do it justice. Thoroughly earning it’s R rating with violence, sexual material, and language, it’s a dark, twisted, blood-soaked, spy-flavored satire.
Lesson learned about satire: anything goes.
Whoever made Kingsman decided that they were just going to do whatever the bloody Hell they wanted, taking everything they could get their hands on, throwing it into a massive blender, then splashing it all over the place in a glorious mess!
Kingsman alternates very quickly between serious and sarcastic, horrifying and hilarious, crude and crafty. The film often mixes them all together, side-by-side, with no sense of discrimination whatsoever. For which irreverence, they are utterly unrepentant!
Personally, I do not approve of all the graphic content – slicing a man in half, brutal murders, blowing up everyone’s heads (though Obama’s head gong “poof” like that…), seeing a woman’s bare behind, etc. – but there is a certain amount of respect due to people who just do what they love, what makes them happy, without apologies, without caring what anyone thinks of them. That’s the sort of movie Kingsman is.
Amidst all of this, there is a rather compelling social commentary, dealing with the so-called disparities between classes.
I don’t wish to have any plot spoilers here, so I shall simply say this: this film shows poor people and rich people. At both ends of the spectrum, you have good people, and you have bad people. The difference is simply one of compassion, of caring for one’s fellow human beings. Also at both ends, you have intelligence and stupidity.
Seriously, the evil rich people are too stupid to ask, “If we kill all the commoners who produce our food, clothes, shelter, toys, etc. how will we manage to survive afterward?”
I rather like to think of it like this: the war between classes is freaking ridiculous.
Yes, there are rich people who are evil, but there are also rich people who are good. You can’t classify them all together any more than they can classify poor people in similar manner. And the lesser men at both ends of the spectrum had best beware. The commoners will one day run into a man who can handily clean their collective clocks, and the arrogant elite will one day have some uppity commoner come along and make their heads explode, or some such equivalent.
And, this is worth emphasizing, what separates good and evil people at both ends of the spectrum is simply: the selfless compassion to care about one’s fellow human beings.
With that, and with how we see the main protagonist grow and evolve into a better, more capable man than he was before, there is a great deal to this film which I like. Overall, I classify it as a positive experience. But definitely not one for all audiences.
Which is my hangup on how to rate this movie as a whole. The plot, the themes, the action, all of these are excellent, and I enjoy them. And, of course, I applaud giving the finger to most social norms. But, that said, I do believe they could have done most of this by less graphic means. Then again, maybe not. And they do take steps to make it more like a cartoon than a realistic massacre.
But the argument with myself goes back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
For now, at least, no matter how enjoyable the film was on a first viewing (and I may suspect that repeated viewing may not be this film’s strength), no matter the message or the hero’s journey, no matter the great action, and the great lines (“Manners. Maketh. Man.”), I still, in good conscience, cannot give Kingsman more than 7 stars out of 10.
One point lost for the excessive violence and language, one for the lady’s bare behind, and one for how a catastrophic event occurs at the climax of the film, and there’s no evidence of the horrendous fallout which would follow, and other such plot holes.