Cinematic Releases: Kingsman - The Secret Service

This weekend, it's not just floggers and whips that are hitting theaters.

"Why, yes. You do look like a
douchebag with that coat on."
I’ll just come out and say it. Kingsman: The Secret Service is one of the worst movies I have ever paid money to see in a theater. I honestly did not expect much out of it. The trailers did nothing to lead me to believe it was going to be great but on the other hand it is directed by Matthew Vaughn who previously has delivered some excellent work (Layer Cake, Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class) and has a cast featuring Colin Firth, Michael Cain and Samuel L. Jackson. Mark Hamill even appears in a supporting role. That’s a lot of heavyweight talent. It's definitely enough to give any movie the benefit of the doubt going in. Well, I hope they all got paid in advance and got paid a lot.

I’ll give Firth and Cain a little bit of a pass, they did what they could considering what they had to work with. But what the hell was Sam Jackson thinking? Not only does he spend the entire film speaking in the worst lisp in the history of lisps but he’s also dressed like a 60 year old Steve Urkel had a mid-1990s Nike catalog vomit all over him. It’s painful to watch. 

Kingsman is a spy-action-comedy that goes out of its way to tell you that this is not your father’s James Bond spy movie. Vaughn takes every opportunity to club the audience to death with how fun, hip and cool his movie is trying to be by satirizing the genre. Hey kids! Look how cool I am! My ‘Bond Villain’ is a hot chick with prosthetic legs that turn into swords when she goes all Crouching Tiger on some fools ass!  If Kingsman had been made as a spoof, a lot of this could have worked. Instead it’s trying to be cool and comes off completely flat and stupid. The over-hyped music and editing during the action sequences is more suited to a low budget rap video.

"I knew you were gonna do it.
Enough with the snakes on a plane
jokes already!"
The film opens with a quick (and I mean quick) first act that is followed by a second act the eats up the bulk of the film. Vaughn spends roughly 90 minutes of the film's 129 minute running time on the second act. It is exhausting. The final act isn’t much better but at least it has the decency to be over quickly. Relative newcomer Taron Egerton plays the young hero of this train wreck but I can hardly place the blame on him. Sure his performance is devoid of any expression or emotion but at least years from now if he manages to have a good career he can sweep this one under the rug and play the ‘it was my first big break’ card.

What I really can’t wrap my head around is that Matthew Vaughn dropped out of directing X-Men: Days of Future Past in order to work on this thing. It must have been the lure of working with the team from Kick-Ass again. Mark Millar is highly respected in the comic book world having written for Marvel as well as creating Kick-Ass and The Secret Service, which served as our source material here. The formula worked like magic on Kick-Ass, which I loved. It does not work for Kingsman, at least not for me. I’m sure some people will like it. There is an ass for every seat, as a friend of mine once said.

-Brian Rohe