“Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)” Review

Did you see the film ‘Trading Places’? How about ‘Nikita’? ‘Pretty Woman’?

Why did I watch it?

Did it meet expectations?

The film, with a certain amount of self-consciousness (and an even greater measure of self-satisfaction) tries to position itself against the Bourne tendency – action films taking themselves increasingly seriously. There’s certainly a hint of John Steed in Colin Firth’s bowler and brolly but there’s also the influence of late Connery/early Moore Bond (which were, themselves, influenced by The Avengers).

But the bad-taste graphic violence and goriness is definitely not Avengers or early Roger Moore. When I looked up the writer/directory (Matthew Vaughn) and co-writer (Jane Goldman) and saw they also did Kick-Ass I realised why it was familiar. But in Kick-Ass, a commentary on the super-hero movie, it served some satirical purpose. Here the nastiness works against the reinvention of the Brit-spy colourful nonsense genre. And the plotting, alas, fails to make sense even on its own terms.

I also spotted that Vaughn and Goldman were responsible for Stardust which has rather less in common with this.

There’s also a painfully unfunny turn from Samuel L. Jackson as a tedious Gates/Jobs inspired eco-villain. If they were taking inspiration from The Avengers they should have taken a look at The Gravediggers for how to do a dangerously zealous eccentric.

Colin Firth is rather good with the bowler and brolly though. Jack Davenport has a too-short cameo. And Mark Strong seems to be in every film I’ve watched recently…

You should watch it if…

  • You think Bond films have only gone downhill since Moonraker

You shouldn’t watch it if…

  • You think good taste should apply to more than just a well-tailored suit.

Next up: A Walk Among The Tombstones (2014)

About Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more...

6 thoughts on ““Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)” Review

  1. Remake of Man from Uncle was better than expected but I can’t remember if you’ve reviewed that.
    This week I’ve had an retro super spy fest: Our Man Flint (1965) + In like Flint (1967). Although parodying 007 they were parodied themselves by Mike Myers years later.

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