“Kingsman: The Secret Service” (2015) is one of those love it or hate it movies — you’ll know within a few minutes whether it’s a movie for you. The British action-comedy both celebrates and sends-up spy movie tropes, with lots of wacky, over-the-top action sequences and gadgets, as well as Samuel L. Jackson as a decidedly unique villain. In the middle of it all, Colin Firth maintains his classic, debonair poise as a spy who serves as a mentor to a young man with a chip on his shoulder but lots of promise (Taron Egerton).
Although I sadly missed the first Kingsman movie when it was in theaters in 2015 (the sequel is out this weekend), a friend got me the DVD for my birthday that year, saying it was something I’d probably love. She was right — I did. After watching it, my first thought was, “That was crazy. I’m not sure what I just watched, but I have to see it again.” It’s now one of my favorite movies.
As mentioned earlier, Colin Firth plays Agent Galahad, a member of Britain’s highly secretive espionage organization the Kingsmen. He’s been keeping an eye on young Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the son of a former Kingsman who saved his life. While Eggsy does have a knack for getting into trouble, he also has a good heart, something Agent Galahad recognizes. He recruits Eggsy to the Kingsman training program, hoping to give him a brighter future. Meanwhile, Samuel L. Jackson’s eccentric tech genius Richmond Valentine announces a plan to implant chips in people and give them unlimited free cellular and internet service. Galahad suspects he has nefarious motives.
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” is directed by Matthew Vaughn, who also directed my favorite X-Men film, “First Class.” “Kingsman” has a few similar elements to “First Class” — a group of talented young adults (or in the case of “First Class,” mutants) who are recruited to join a secretive organization protecting the world from outside threats. Both have a stylish production design and a great cast of actors who genuinely appear to be having fun on set. It’s a blast to watch the always-dapper Colin Firth in such a fun (and funny) movie, and Taron Egerton does a good job showing his character’s progression from juvenile delinquent to junior James Bond. The often-underappreciated Mark Strong is also great as the movie’s “Q”-esque character.
One of the things I love most about “Kingsman” is the way it simply embraces how over-the-top it is. I love a good, gritty spy film with a darker tone (Daniel Craig’s “Casino Royale” is one of my all-time favorites). However, sometimes it’s fun to just willingly suspend disbelief and let a movie take you on a wild ride. And there definitely are some crazy moments in this movie, including one of the strangest, most violent fight scenes I’ve ever seen on film (if you’ve watched “Kingsman,” you know which one I’m talking about). Even when this movie veers a little too far into the ridiculous, you just have to smile and go along for the ride. Because this genuinely is a fun movie.
If you missed out on “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” I would highly recommend it, especially since the upcoming sequel looks like tons of fun. Although I’m not sure how they’ll top some of the set pieces in the last movie, I’m looking forward to watching them try. Especially since they’ve add the fun touch of bringing on the Kingsmen’s American equivalent, the Statesmen.