It’s tough for a movie to live up to your expectations when you’ve known about it for 9 months. That being said, I would give Kingsman: The Secret Service a rating of 73%. Let me start by apologizing that this review is more disjoined and stream of conscienceness than I wanted it to be; I just needed to get this collection of thoughts out of my head.
The trailer, which you hopefully will have just watched, made it look like a gritty spy thriller with good action, wit, and gadgets. What it delivered was something a bit sillier. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a comedy, but it definitely was not a serious or grounded in reality as I wanted it to be. I get that the point of a trailer is to get asses in seats, however, if this movie was advertise more accurately to represent the product I ended up seeing, I probably wouldn’t have gone to see it.
That being said, I did still think it was a decent film. I thought the whole Kingsman training school was brilliant. It was as if James Bond had gone to Hogwarts. I thought the gadgets were great and I really liked the characters. The acting was on point; Sam Jackson was great, Colin Firth was great, Mark Strong was great, and newcomer (or at least new to me) Taron Egerton was great. I loved all the bespoke suit stuff. The whole gentleman spy thing was the bit I was interested in; I thought it would keep closer to that theme. Instead it lost me by changing gears with the over the top violence (ie. God Bless America) and a silly plot.
The villain’s evil plot was very far fetched. The movie was much more violent than I expected it to be and over the top, dare I say gory violent. As well, the action sequences were a bit cartoony and over the top. It felt more akin to Wanted (fuck that movie) than it did to James Bond (and by James Bond I mean Sean Connery to Pierce Brosnan (with the exception of Die Another Day and a few choice others*)).
What makes the pre-Daniel Craig Bond films great is there ability to have a tongue in cheek humor with an over-the-top yet still somehow grounded in reality feel to all of the plots and action. That being said, though what I love in Bond is their ability to not take themselves too seriously, what I was hoping for, what I was expecting was something more akin to the Jason Borne movies. Not that those are amazing, but I like how hard and tough and no frills they are; they are serious spy movies.
This movie is more for people who are into all the superhero franchises (with the exception of Spider-Man (2002) because that movie was awesome); Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy. I see those trailers and I roll my eyes because I don’t care about any of their substance free, action for the sake of action plot lines. I want to see good grounded movies, and not that I don’t have a sense of humor, but typically I would rather watch something serious.
If I’ve not said it before, I am a “movie optimist,” a phrase coined by my friend Dave. I go into movies wanting to like them. I typically don’t like ripping a movie apart and I didn’t hate this movie but I didn’t love it either. It was good, I guess, for what it was, and I try not to go into movies with expectations because then they can be ruined but it merely wasn’t the movie I was expecting it to be.
*Octopussy, Live and Let Die (specifically ONLY the scene where Katanga blows up, otherwise it’s great), License to Kill (when that dude’s head explodes at the end) and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.