Monday, February 16, 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a spy film directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) and based on the comic series The Secret Service, by Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Ultimates) and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen). It plays with spy tropes and makes meta references, but also desperately wants to be a Bond film.

The older good guys (Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Mark Strong) are all very properly British. This works well, since there's something very appealing about calm, collected Brits kicking the crap out of people. The lead character, on the other hand, is British but not proper. I suspect he's the English equivalent of the cast of Jersey Shore. This works for contrast, but he's somewhat annoying as a character.

And then there's the villain, Samuel L Jackson's insane lisping megalomaniacal psychopath. He and his plot and his base and his minions are worthy successors to the old Bond material from which this movie draws inspiration. That is not necessarily a good thing. Despite multiple characters claiming that this is not the kind of movie where the villain makes dumb mistakes for plot purposes, the villain's plot has rather a lot of flaws.

The plot structure of the movie also has problems. It attempts to juggle the villain's plot, the Kingsman-recruit plot, and the mentor plot between Firth's Galahad and Taron Edgerton's Eggsy. The result is a bit of a mess, with one part or another dropping out for long periods of time. Presumably the comic had a bit more time to deal with everything properly, but it doesn't all fit gracefully into a two hour movie.

The action sequences are reasonably good - the sort of thing you'd expect from the people responsible for Kick-Ass doing a spy movie. There are lots of gadgets, chase sequences, and lots and lots of oddly bloodless killing. The movie is R, and earns it with a huge body count (and a bunch of language), but the violence is distractingly bloodless while still being brutally over-the-top.

The result is a film with style, action, a weak plot... and terrible misogyny. There are three named female characters in Kingsman. One is Eggsy's mother, who exists to be pathetic and abused. One is the villain's sidekick, who is really cool and bad-ass and has no substance whatsoever - we learn nothing about who she is, what she wants, or how she ended up where she is. The third female character is Sophie Cookson's Roxy, who is one of the other Kingsman recruits. She is described as competent and smart, but repeatedly requires Eggsy's approval or encouragement to do anything. She is artificially weak and subservient for no reason at all.

So Kingsman is a reasonably entertaining film with egregiously bad depictions of women. It can be enjoyed, but perhaps it shouldn't be.

Performance: 3/5
Plot: 2/5
Production: 3/5
Overall: 2/5
Bechdel: Fail (D)
Mako Mori: Fail
What are these?

Fun Movies

  1. Jupiter Ascending
  2. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  3. Blackhat

Serious Movies

  1. American Sniper


  1. Replies
    1. Yeah, I'm a bit behind. I haven't much been in the mood to write recently. Insurgent, Ultron, and Fury Road are up now. I'll see if I can get Pitch Perfect 2 and Tomorrowland up soon.