With how ridiculous Kingsman: The Secret Service is I feel like I shouldn’t have liked it even though I was pretty excited going in. How could I not be after those previews? But still, it was setting itself up to crash hard, right next to the burning wreckage of Jupiter Ascending. Thankfully Kingsman doesn’t disappoint, embracing the weird as it leans far away from the spy films I am used to thanks to the Daniel Craig era of Bond films. Boy did I like it. I really, really did.
When a member of a secret spy agency is taken out during an attempt to rescue a scientist, the current members of the Kingsman’s round table must quickly fill the vacated seat as they work to figure out what the heck it going on, breaking the film into two parallel storylines. First, we have the recruits competing against each other to don the title of “Lancelot,” centered on the younger, rougher Eggsy. Taron Egerton has this side of the story resting largely on his shoulders as he grows into the leading man of the film, and he holds his own against Colin Firth even though there is a huge difference in the length of their imdb pages. But when it comes down to it, Firth pulls focus simply because it’s Firth doing something I never expected to see him do. That’s right, Colin Firth is the James Bond of the film.
Firth has been known to make the ladies swoon, a quality needed by the lead of any spy film, but he is still far from what you’d expect in an action star. He’s Mr. Darcy, for crying out loud! The most action I expect out of him is to smack the smugness off another high society dandy’s face with his pristine, white glove. With that said, when there are no gloves available it turns out Firth can more than hold his own in a physically demanding film such as this. As Eggsy continues to move through the different trials set before him, including taking care of one of the most adorable puppies ever, Firth is out there trying to figure out what the big bad villain has in store for the world. And that villain is Samuel L. Jackson.
Oh Samuel L. Jackson… He really knows how to make the most of these weird villains. Remember his performance in The Spirit? This may not be as out there as that one, but it pulls up close besides it. Even as his sidekick acrobatically slices and dices his targets with her scary sword appendages, Jackson still manages to steal the scenes with his reactions and line readings. Not that he can take all the credit for this, he has a great script to work off of; a script that includes a crazy amazing fight sequence. I won’t give anything away about it because it’s a pretty big plot point, but just know that this is the moment when you will feel idiotic for ever doubting Firth as an action star. It’s not like he’s out there cracking skulls with The Rock, but he still manages to make a lot of choreographed sequences look easy, all while wearing a suit and tie. When you see what will undoubtedly end up being my favorite movie scene of the year you’ll understand.
With a hint of the enjoyment Shaun of the Dead projects in its scenes of violence (think of when the zombie is being bludgeon by pool cues as the soundtrack blasts in the background), Kingsman only gets it wrong a couple times. There is one major CGI shot that comes to mind, and one joke runs a little long in its satisfaction with itself, but these are hardly things worth downgrading a film over considering it has already far surpassed any doubts I had about it going in. There’s just way too much fun to be had not to like it.