Written by Rhys Wortham
I personally consider most British comedies to be wittier than their American counterparts, mainly due to well-placed gags and expertly crafted dialogue. With ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’, where it lacked at times on the gag front, it more than made up for with delightfully crass humour, simple pokes at American stereotypes and in-your-face violence, examples of which can be found in the various trailers for the movie. Indeed, it was during many of the more violent scenes where I found myself sniggering the most, particularly when the Kingsmen confront a racist church group. Similarly, the blatant references to just about every other spy film, whilst maintaining its own unique, ironic style of humour, was commendable, a tribute to the spy movie genre.
Based on a comic book, director Matthew Vaughn brings to the big screen, the story of Harry Hart. Harry (Colin Firth) is an undercover spy, who owes a life debt to a fallen friend and former colleague, Lancelot. The Kingsmen work for a socially elite group and are Britain’s best undercover. Taking their names from the fairy tales of King Arthur, some of these spies even exude the qualities of their mythical counterparts. Colin Firth plays the straight man to Taron Egerton’s young, foul-mouthed social delinquent, Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin. When Gary is arrested, he calls on the Kingsmen to get him out of trouble. They do, and in turn decide to recruit him for their undercover training program.
Sadly, the film was guilty of a rather jumbled development, with Egerton’s character in particular, jumping between lovable dumbass, to killing machine, to then being nothing more than an arrogant prick. The anti-US undertones, whilst being consistent, were at times a little obnoxious. Admittedly, the ‘attack’ was focused on berating the evil of corporate America, a thing of fiction right? The fact that one of the crucial parts of the story involved mass genocide, which all of the world’s billionaires were passive to, seems a little absurd. I mean, who would run their businesses and provide them with sustenance if all of society had collapsed. [SPOILER ALERT] After one of the main characters dies, there is a clear switch in the style of humour, leaving behind a mixture of mellow wit, for a more oafish, simple humour. So when you start to think “hang on, these jokes are suddenly a lot worse”, you know you’re nearing the end of the movie.
Most spy films that try add a comedic edge fail at the first hurdle, by hiring writers who don’t know how to blend the two genres, or who allow the comedy to become too experimental. ‘Kingsman’ however, showed a nice balance of everything without having one genre overpower the other. The characters were likeable (if not a little cliché) and whilst the story might be regarded as bland by some people, but how everything is set up certainly separates it from the rest of the genre. I implore you to see this at the cinema before it’s too late. ‘Kingsman’ might not go down as a comedy classic, or a spy film classic, but it will definitely be discussed for a good while yet. In secret of course!
DIRECTOR: MATTHEW VAUGHN
STARRING: COLIN FIRTH, TARON EGERTON, SOFIA BOUTELLA, SAMUEL L. JACKSON