RECAP: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015): Matthew Vaughn

Perhaps, when you saw the trailer for Kingsman, you balked at the thought of Colin “White Gloves” Firth in an action role. I did.

Turns out that an Oscar winner for Best Actor possesses some skill at acting. The old dandy nearly pulled it off.

Kingsman was enough of a feel-good action movie about murdering billions to earn nearly five times its budget, making it a sleeper success, especially considering its February release date (this film coming one year before Deadpool.

ONE SENTENCE PLOT SUMMARY: A British secret agency, no, not THAT secret agency, recruits a troubled lad to replace a fallen gentleman and help save the world from–gasp–an American.

Hero (5/10)

Despite a strong case from international superstar and Oscar winner Colin Firth, the hero of Kingsman is then 26-year-old newcomer Taron Egerton. He plays Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, probably the loser-ist name in cinema history. Un-win.

Eggsy’s life ain’t great. As a wee lad he learns that his father died defending the homeland, but he’ll never learn why or how. His father died and all he got was a lousy medallion and a pat on the shoulder from Colin Firth.

He grew up into a fine lad, the primary caregiver for his toddler half-brother, because his Mum is too busy snogging with a dip shit boyfriend.

Eggsy and his mother live in council housing, England’s equivalent to The Projects. Times are tough, and Eggsy can barely keep on his two feet. After a scuffle with several local bullies, the same track-suited goons he’s ducked his entire life, Eggsy lands in jail and calls the Kingsman.

Firth’s Harry Hart, code name Galahad, bails out Eggsy and chides him for his lack of initiative. Champion gymnast at 10, high IQ, joined the Marines but dropped out–Eggsy holds a litany of traits perfect for Kingsman, the Marines, Scotland Yard, or the Olympic Games. The problem is his mother. Eggsy says she “went mental, banging on about losing me as well as my dad.” Angry, he says to Galahad, “If we was born with same silver spoon up our asses, we’d do just as well as you.”

Galahad offers Eggsy a chance to prove himself by joining the Kingsman. The private secret spy organization, of sorts, founded in 1849, needs a new body to replace the position held by the recently murdered Lancelot. But fill the position Eggsy must survive a brutal recruitment training/weening. And I mean literally survive.

Deep in England’s lawn-strewn, estate-filled countryside, a handful of young recruits, mostly men but two women, assemble in a gleaming training room. Eggsy is among them. In walks Merlin (Mark Strong), who assigns the recruits their first task: signing their name to a body bag, in which their mortal remains will be sent to next of kin should they die during training.

Eggsy struggles to stomach his possible death. His first taste of it comes that night, when, sleeping in his cot, the room floods. Awakened, Eggsy shows his street training. While his compatriots run to the loo to jam breathing tubes into the U-bends of the toilets, Eggsy swims for the door. That’s locked, so he swims across the room to the mirror, correctly guessing it to be a two-way mirror, and punches through it–that’s council housing for you–and though he saved his life and those of his training partners, they all failed the test because they left one woman behind, and she’s dead now. Oops.

What drives Eggsy through the training? He wants to protect his mother from an abusive boyfriend. That’s about it. His life lacks direction–no jobs, no prospects–the same troubles plaguing many impoverished hovels.

Eggsy takes well to Kingsman training, but he never seems to enjoy it. It’s something to endure, while the prep school boys enjoy the camaraderie. When the group, winnowed after some failures and deaths, skydive, Eggsy is the first to deduce a plan to save the life of the one without a parachute. He’s ready to sacrifice himself, but not to be sacrificed by others. “Am I the expendable candidate?” he yells at Merlin after safely touching down. “Take that chip off your shoulder,” Merlin says as he pulls the ripcord of Eggsy’s chute, which was there all along.

It’s his caring nature that gets Eggsy evicted from Kingsman. His final task is to shoot JB, the pug he’s raised while training. JB stands, of course, for James–, no, Jason–, no, sorry, Jack Bauer. Of course Jack Bauer. Anyway, Eggsy refuses. That dog looks so innocent and trusting. Who could? He’s ordered immediately to leave Kingsman forever.

A little conflict never hurt anyone. Later, Eggsy observes Galahad’s murder, which drives him to try again for Kingsman. There is an opening, after all, for Galahad.

Eggsy brings information to Merlin about the upcoming apocalyptic V-Day, and that’s enough to get on the jet to Valentine’s headquarters. Eggsy, ensconced in bespoke menswear, saves the day through terrific shooting and avoiding of sword feet. “A bespoke suit always fits.”

Egerton ably fills out the sideways capped outfit of a young chav. He’s more believable as a frightened-but-sensitive young man making baby faces at his tiny brother or talking Colin Firth down from a fight with local pub toughs than he is wearing slicked hair and donning unnecessary glasses.

Villain (6/10)

Hollywood workhorse Samuel L. Jackson gets a role as chief action movie villain. He plays tech billionaire Valentine, a man so rich that he can give away telecommunications to the entire world.

We don’t know much about Valentine, not even his first name, but his ethos is clear–the world is in dire straights and needs a cleansing. Isn’t that always what villains are in to?

With a Spike Lee fashion sense, Valentine lures the world’s elites to support his plan of cleansing. Valentine believes that the Earth is a host and humans are a virus. Global warming is Earth’s fever, an effort to kill the virus, the human strain.

He came to this idea after trying to solve the problem of global warming with money. But money wasn’t working, so he tacked into global murder. Hitler tried murder on an industrial scale, Valentine tries it on a digital scale. He plans to help the Earth sweat out its human fever by setting plebeian against plebeian, using free SIM cards implanted into the necks of billions that he can control.

The technology is perfectly effective. Valentine tests it on a group of congregants in a Kentucky church. Those with the chip implanted are affected, and so are the ones without it. The chip suppresses the neuro-inhibitors that prevent us from walking into out neighbors’ homes and ripping them limb from limb. In short, the chip turns us into savages.

Valentine can’t watch the test, though. He’s averse to witnessing physical violence. He has Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), his henchwoman, observe the murders, even asking her to turn down the volume. He’ll puke all over creation if he’s not careful.

Valentine might be a wimp regarding violence, but he doesn’t let that stand between him and his goals. That’s called moral character, folks. When face to face with Galahad, outside the church, after the film-defining massacre, Valentine personally murders Galahad, just to prove how villainous he is. He immediately regrets it, nearly puking. But he did it.

Jackson turns down his Sam-ness to play Valentine, channeling his inner Mike Tyson. He attaches to the character a lisp, and to his clear glasses is a device called “V-glass.” His Yankees cap, flat-billed, turned slightly right, matches his track-suit-inspired outfits.

Purple and orange are Valentine’s colors of choice, adding a pleasant palate to the staid browns and grays of English suits. Still, that doesn’t stop Valentine from “thirsting for that dope-ass smoking jacket” Galahad wore to his house for dinner.

Action/Effects (8/10)

The church. South Glade Mission Church, a congregation of white Protestants, listen to a hateful sermon from its preacher. He spews one of the off-the-shelf Jew/nigger/fag sermons that lump all non-white, non-Protestant, non-groups-they-aren’t-a-part-of into a conspiring group of folk eager to rot the nation’s moral fabric.

Valentine is across the street eager to test his briefcase neurotransmitter. He turns it on before Galahad can leave the church, and if say that Hell broke loose, that would not be far fro the mark. Galahad draws a gun and murders a woman point-blank.

The entire church erupts in righteous violence, but the camera tracks Galahad as he bobs and weaves down the center aisle, killing at least 20 people before a large man knocks him into the organ pipes. Back in London, Eggsy can hardly watch, and Valentine across the street, cannot watch at all.

Galahad empties his clip and resorts to fists, hymnals, and pilfered knives. He attacks one man by stabbing him in the eye, he punches another guy, goes back to the guy with the knifed eye, removes the knife, and stabs it into the skull of a third man.

People are being thrown out the window, stabbed with wood and metal church objects, and lit aflame. Only now comes the most unbelievable part of the fight–that several minutes have elapsed before anyone else draws a gun. A church full of racist whites in rural Kentucky? OF COURSE they were packing heat.

Galahad dodges a bullet and thrown objects. He intercepts a spear and impales three people. Lambs to the slaughter. Someone stabs him, but doesn’t live long enough to gloat. More die. Many more die. A woman is axed in the neck. A man is stabbed through the arm. The scene ends with the conclusion of the “Free Bird” guitar solo as Galahad imaples the pastor through the skull.

Utterly, utterly gruesome. As a testament to stunt choreography, the scene was a spectacular success. You can see all the moves. Few (cinematic) cuts are made. While I appreciated the skill involved, the violence dragged too long and the guitar strings too flippant.

On sheer skill, Kingsman deserves its high marks for action.

Sidekicks (6/8)

Making a strong case for Hero, Colin Firth spends much of Kingsman as its star. He’s the first British person to show his face, and clearly the leader of the service, despite having to report to Arthur (Michael Caine).

Galahad made a mistake in 1997 in the Middle East. He took a too-green not-yet-agent into the field. While interrogating a suspect, Galahad overlooked a grenade on the suspect’s person. That man pulled the pin with his teeth and exploded, but not before the wannabe-agent, Eggsy’s father, leapt atop him.

Galahad spent the next 17 years making up for that mistake. He offered aid to the wife and child, giving them a medal and an offer of one free favor, whenever in trouble.

Eggsy, when he’s stuck in jail, asks for that favor and Galahad backs him for a Kingsman. When Eggsy flunks out, Galahad chides him. All his actions are to atone for getting his father killed.

Galahad’s role with Eggsy falls squarely in the mentor camp. The elder Kingsman is full of quotes like “True nobility lies in being superior to your formal self,” which he quoted from Hemingway, “Being a gentleman is something one learns,” and “The suit is the modern gentleman’s armor.” That last one Galahad might have meant literally, because all Kingsman Savile Row suits are bulletproof.

On the surface, trying to amend a past mistake by bringing the son of the person you got killed into the same profession appears laudable. Delve deeper and find a thick selfishness.

Galahad made a mistake in the Middle East. The mistake ended a man’s life. To atone for this, Galahad chooses to bring the man’s son into the same situation. Rather than admit to the kid that he screwed up and ask for forgiveness, Galahad convinces Eggsy to make the same journey.

Sure, Galahad offers a story about fulfilling one’s potential, telling Eggsy that life isn’t about where you start but how you run the race, but, Galahad admits, “everything” he’s done for Eggsy is to atone for the past mistake. Eggsy accuses aristocratic Galahad of using poor blokes like himself for the meat grinder of national security. Galahad is too clouded to realize the boy’s right.

Motivations don’t hinder Galahad’s fighting ability. “Manners maketh man,” he says to a gang of chavs in the London pub where Eggsy drinks. After locking the pub doors, Galahad beats down five thugs in stylish fashion.

First, he flicks a mug into the mug of the guy pestering Eggsy. He uses his umbrella to smash a tooth from another guy’s mouth. Dodging knife slashes is easy for Galahad until it isn’t. He takes a blow to the shoulder that proves to not hinder him in the slightest, during the fight nor after.

Thugs crash into doors and bar rails. The lead thug rises again after his cronies have been dispatched. He draws a gun, a serious crime in England, and empties the chambers at Galahad’s bulletproof umbrella. Galahad sets the umbrella to stun and knocks out the goon a second time. Before the barkeep can call the bobbies, Galahad shoots an amnesia dart into his neck.

All this because they wouldn’t allow him to finish his Guinness. He’d had an “emotional day” up to that point, emotional enough that a silver-spooned arsehole like himself would drink an Irish beer instead of a whisky or scotch.

Many others help Eggsy on his journey, but I’ll touch on the other young newcomer, Sophie Cookson as Roxy. She’s one of the few friends Eggsy has at Kingsman, one of the few (actually, they were both women) who address him as “Eggsy” and not as “Eggy.”

Roxy soothes Eggsy’s fears of training. Eggsy returns the favor when Roxy fears to leap from a plane. She’s game to seduce a woman. But don’t mistake Roxy for a kind soul only. She shoots her dog, winning her a position in Kingsman as the new Lancelot.

Poor soul Roxy is forced to ascend above the atmosphere to shoot a missile at a Valentine satellite that disrupts the chain linking the network of SIM card enablers. Falling from great heights is the one thing she fears, and it’s the one thing she must do to save the world. She does her duty and survives long enough to call her mum. Nope, make that Eggsy’s mum. Maybe Roxy called her family off camera?

Henchmen (4/8)

Valentine employs many people in his Forbes-level company, but none seem to know his evil plan except Gazelle.

The fringe-cut blade runner imposes from the very start, but knows her manners. She first appears in Argentina after slicing in half a Kingsman agent.

The Kingsman agent killed the guards in the chalet, but it fell to Gazelle to cover them with sheets. She politely asks Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill!) to hold the sheets while she covered them, always smiling.

Gazelle is molded in the image of Oddjob, the top-hatted bowling ball of a henchman from 1964’s Goldfinger. Like Oddjob, Gazelle poses as chief servant when not in killing mode. Unlike Oddjob, she has swords for feet.

Though Valentine is the head of a technology company, Gazelle seems to be the head of technical security. She installs the biometric firewalls on Valentine’s desk computer and briefcase transmitter.

Stunts (6/6)

Gazelle provided Kingsman‘s most spectacular stunts. That’s no surprise, given that her spiked heels are actually penetrating blades for slicing people in half.

Gazelle eschews hand-to-hand combat, choosing instead foot-to-face. She fights three times in the movie, each time escalating her fight time.

In Argentina Gazelle slices Lancelot in two, proving that steel is stronger than bone. We are deprived of witnessing the slicing power of the blade feet until she kills the Swedish princess’s armed guards.

The suited guards draw weapons inside Valentine’s home. Gazelle shows no problems with these. She slides on the wood floor to slice at the men. One guy watches his forearm fly away from his body. Another man is stabbed through the face with a heel kick.

Despite her tremendous gymnastic skill, it’s not until the climax that Gazelle unfurls her full powers.

Eggsy enters Valentine’s chamber and shoots at him and Gazelle, who doesn’t like being shot at. She leaps through the glass and shoots at Eggsy.

To call their tete-a-tete a fight pretends that it was not a one-sided affair. Gazelle is doing all the work; Eggsy dodges as if hoping to win on style points.

Gazelle knows she needs no weapons in a fight, when her lower extremities are such weapons. She displays her tremendous flexibility and martial skill, most evident because she avoids cutting herself with her leg swords.

Eggsy uses whatever he can to block the whirling dervish kicks from the assassin. Her stunt double impersonates a top with blade wings. Roundhouse kicks fly at Eggsy. Jab kicks, too. He dodges them. He can do no more.

The pair make the dance floor. Gazelle shows off her skill in floor exercise, twirling her body like a salad spinner, always close-but-no-cigar to cutting her enemy’s face in two. At one moment she does a handstand and flicks her legs over her head to deflect an attack.

For Gazelle, her tricks proved too much of the one-pony variety. When all you do is kick, you become predictable, and that led to her death.

Climax (4/6)

Merlin, presumably the highest-ranking Kingsman after the deaths of Arthur and Galahad, receives the information of impending V-Day with grave concern. After he calms Roxy, the new Lancelot, he decides to fly the two noobs to Valentine’s mountain hideaway and foil the tech genius’s plot.

Their plan is simple: use atmospheric balloons and a guided missile to disable a Valentine relay satellite while the only trustworthy Kingsman agent infiltrates a heavily guarded fortress to kill the ringleader. Simple.

Merlin chooses Roxy to fly into the atmosphere, despite her fear of skydiving exhibited during her training. Merlin’s choice only makes sense because Eggsy is the hero and, therefore, he must face Valentine. Kingsman is a self-aware movie, but it shielded its gaze from that poor choice.

Eggsy, accepting Galahad’s suit, will enter Valentine’s lair by using Arthur’s invitation, proving that Valentine has never met the old guy, nor knows a thing about him.

Merlin and Eggsy arrive on the landing strip not long after the Swedish Prime Minister. Eggsy is about to join a dull party.

Valentine overlooks a dour gathering of the world’s richest and most powerful people who accepted a Valentine implant. Why the long faces? Is there not enough Grey Goose behind the low-lit bar?

(What job would be worse than tending bar at this end-of-the-world party? You can’t retreat to your studio in the warehouse district after work, and the rich folks celebrating their new world aren’t likely to be in a tipping mood.)

Valentine gets on the mic and delivers a solid pep talk in which he compares himself to Noah (who turned out to be the hero). Heck, even God came out of that flood story with a high Q-score. Valentine ends his speech imploring his guests to “eat, drink, and paaaaarty!”

Now that this party is kicking, Eggsy enters and orders the anti-Bond: a martini “gin, not vodka, obviously” stirred for 10 seconds. Eggsy needs to get online so Merlin can hack Valentine’s satellite control system. The only computer running belongs to the Swedish Prime Minister, who’s using a laptop while sitting alone in a booth.

If you needed a metaphor for our society’s addiction to communications and the Internet, look no further than this scene. Swedish PM’s thoughts: Let’s see, billions of people are about to die, including most of my countryfolk, I’m inside a hollowed-out mountain, yes, this is a perfect time to see if anyone has responded to my Evite for Soren’s birthday next week. 

Eggsy uses his watch dart to knock out the PM, hacking into the closed network just long enough to let Merlin in. Next thing he knows there’s a knife at his neck, held by Charlie, the last guy cut from Kingsman training before him.

Roxy destroys the satellite and begins her fall to Earth. She’s in a bad spin, but jettisons the balloon apparatus and parachutes safely to Earth.

Charlie exposes Eggsy, and then Eggsy electrocutes him. Serves him right. But it’s time for Eggsy to escape. He flees. Armed with only a pistol, he seems to have learned Galahad’s fighting style through osmosis. Eggsy weaves through the rocky corridors without being shot, ably dodging bullets and anticipating enemies coming up around the bend.

Eggsy slides on the floor, runs up walls, and flips upside down while shooting his handgun and rarely missing. It looks fun, but Eggsy’s concentrating, belied by his furrowed brow. They said in Kingsman school that he was good at shooting, but THIS good? The camera gives us first-person shooter mode for some moments. Bond flicks never offered us that.

Eggsy takes a guard’s rifle and returns to the hangar to find Merlin facing down four guns. Eggsy pulls the trigger. The gun is empty. This distracts the guards enough for Merlin to reveal his boss M-16 and kill the quartet.

Back in the jet, Eggsy learns of Valentine’s unbreakable biometric security system. “Get in there and make sure his hand never touches that desk,” Merlin orders. Eggsy returns to the field, but not before choosing the correct weapon–an umbrella.

Eggsy shows off his umbrella skills, using it to deflect hails of bullets. The shotgun setting blasts away two guys, their bodies slamming into walls after their blood. He tosses the cigarette lighter grenade he stole from the armory.

Meanwhile, Valentine’s figured out the satellite problem, and he does what you’d normally do in the situation–uses the latest in V-glass technology to call a friend and ask to borrow his satellite. Request granted.

Double meanwhile, Eggsy reaches the prison corridor but is boxed in. Dozens of white-clad guards surround his position and point their guns at Eggsy, who hides out in front of a metal door. He begs for Merlin’s help.

Merlin’s got problems of his own in the jet. Some guards have wheeled in the missile launcher. The missiles ominously rotate to face the cockpit. Eggsy has an idea. Remember that chip transmitter they plucked from Arthur’s neck? Could they be turned on now?

Merlin, smirking, turns them on. Kingsman goes full comedy. To the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance,” dozens of heads around the world pop off their torsos, all in miasmal smoky fireworks of Valentine’s favorite colors–purple and orange.

The guards near Eggsy die, and not at once, but in lines from back to front. The VIPs awaiting V-Day die, too. VIPs not in the mountain also exploded. But the satellite network was disabled? I don’t understand how the cabinet members assembled below the White House died.

Anyway, Eggsy is free to attack Valentine and Gazelle, two of the few in the mountain smart enough to not have an implant. Valentine is back in control of the satellite network, but he must keep his hand on the desk computer for the implants to function.

The streets of London, a Brooklyn baseball game, Copacabana Beach–we see brawls in all these locations. Also at risk is Eggsy’s younger brother, as their mother tries to Jack Torrance the bathroom door protecting him from her.

Eggsy and Gazelle have their standoff, which Eggsy wins when he jabs her with the poisoned tip of his shoe blade. He tugs off one of her blade feet and javelins it through Valentine’s chest.

Unable to stand the sight of blood, Valentine pukes over his own chest wound and falls. Eggsy stands over him and, given the chance to offer a delicious pun, declines. “This ain’t that kind of movie,” he says. Valentine smiles and dies. The world is saved. Now, about that buggery?

Jokes (1/4)

Why, yes, guv’nuh, some jokes were to be had. Chief among them was the violence, so outlandish as to be without emotional weight. Consider the church scene. Galahad kills dozens of congregants to the guitar solo from “Free Bird.”

Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman director, said that he searched for “great long American guitar solos” and thought the Skynyrd song good enough for the scene. It’s not appropriate for the vile murder of dozens of people, but, then, what song is? “Free Bird” added a bitching guitar riff to the scene that helped make it funnier. Only when the music stops does the carnage become real to us, and to the characters.

Other jokes are few and far between, compartmentalized for your light consumption, exactly as are those Big Macs and Quarter Pounders with Cheese that Valentine loves so much. At the end of that dinner, Galahad tells Valentine, “Thank you for such a happy meal,” in a Dust-Bowl-dry tone.

Valentine has a line about hardly understanding British accents. This is a tired line, but amusingly so, because at least two scenes in the movie involved characters speaking in, to me, a simulacrum of English words.

Other jokes fell flat. Arthur, after hearing that Roxy has shot her dog, chides Eggsy, saying, “At least the girl’s got balls.” And that princess anal sex joke? That was a failed experiment. (More below.)

Setting (2/4)

It’s hard to beat incredible English country houses, and Wrotham Park holds the distinction of the classiest of such estates in Kingsman.

Wrotham is the location of Kingsman, its interior mostly a warehouse of cars and planes. It also houses the recruits in polished-steel interiors that appear made to wash away blood.

All good spy movies have terrific villain hideouts. Valentine provides a classic throwback to the old days of bunkers buried deep in the Earth, or in this case, high above the Earth but deep within a mountain.

The V-Day hideout base is full of bright corridors of rock and red-painted floors that recall the lairs of Dr. Evil. Austin Powers, like Kingsman, is, of course, an homage to ancient James Bond films, so the comparison is natural, perhaps expected, if unintentional.

The Kingsman service is of awash with money, so its meeting rooms, changing rooms, and flats are awash in plaid and argyle (English things). Kingsman‘s style made most everything onscreen a delight to look at.

Commentary (1/2)

Kingsman‘ two primary antagonists, Valentine and Galahad, knew they were in a movie. They discuss the old Bond films during their first meeting, a dinner over Big Macs. Galahad believes that the films were “only as good as the villain,” which he says to the villain of his movie.

Valentine says that he always wanted to grow up and be a gentleman spy, while Galahad says he wanted to grow up and be a colorful megalomaniac. The men speak with an edge in their voices, knowing that they are what the other had wanted to be.

The men carry the metaphor further when they meet outside the Kentucky church where everyone murdered everyone else. Galahad confronts Valentine after the massacre, taunting him, saying that now would be the time spill the beans of his evil plan. “This ain’t that kind of movie,” Valentine says, as he shoots Galahad in the face. Yes, that shocked me as well.

Valentine doesn’t like to see actual violence, but his plan calls for the killing of billions of people. He won’t kill them, he’ll make everyone kill each other. Valentine believes that humans are a virus and Earth is our host. Global warming is a fever induced to destroy the virus, and either the host survives or doesn’t, but the virus is certainly going to die.

Valentine espouses to be the anti-viral. He believes that billions of humans will die anyway from climate change, so why not speed up the process? We can thumb our noses at this plan, but the catalyst for Valentine’s viral theory could be rooted in a real problem, laid out by Galahad at the McDonald’s dinner.

Galahad poses as a billionaire concerned about climate change. He quotes other scientists in saying that carbon is a “red herring” and that society is well past the point of no return. We won’t know if that’s true, but if one were to believe it, drastic actions such as Valentine’s V-Day start to make sense.

Offensiveness (-2/-2)

No joke in the movie caused more stir than the Swedish princess offering Eggsy anal sex if saved.

On the one hand, the joke is a sendup and homage to the Connery/Moore Bond endings, when Bond would sleep with the woman he had teamed with to save the world.

The princess did not aid in stopping Valentine–she was his prisoner. I can’t imagine a scenario in which an actual princess would be eager for sex when she’s suffered in a prison, outside of which raged a horrific gun fight that ended in the explosion of dozens of heads.

The princess earlier displayed toughness, refusing Valentine’s plans of global genocide, and refusing his chip implant. More likely she would demand of Eggsy release from her prison and offer a heartfelt “Thank you” or “Good job.” Being royalty, she might even assume command.

Compartmentalized, the joke was funny. Given the situation and characters, it was cringe-worthy at best.

The princess joke is one symptom of an ailment that plagues Kingsman. The film is a terrific example of the sexism, so ingrained as to be unnoticed, at play in Hollywood and society at large.

What is Kingsman? It’s an action movie that satirizes and lionizes the early James Bond films of Connery and Moore. In that sense the film achieves the highest marks with action, style, and character types.

There in lies the problem. Laced throughout those Bond films is the subservience of women. Honor Blackman and Ursula Andress were two of the more famous examples of Bond Girls, the sobriquet attached Bond’s partner women.

Roxy plays that role in Kingsman. Roxy fears only one thing in training (skydiving), and that’s exactly what’s required of her in the climactic battle with Valentine. (I can forgive the movie this sin, because Kingsman’s head Arthur was the one with the invitation to Valentine’s lair, and if Roxy had shown up impersonating a dude named Arthur some flags would have flown. [Although, wouldn’t they expect an old dude, not some youth.]) When she achieves this, she’s asked to get Eggsy’s mother on the phone. She’s there to help the Hero. Bleh.

That Roxy is a Kingsman at all gives pause to none. Not only is Roxy not a man, neither does she serve a king. What’s worse, Kingsman was founded in 1849, when a goddamned QUEEN was on the throne.

Perhaps no social group is more defensive of conservative values than the Oxbridge club that ran England/Britain/the United Kingdom for seven centuries, but even they would have to be extremely daft to so blithely name their organization KINGSman during the reign of Britain’s longest-ruling and arguably most successful monarch, QUEEN Victoria.

Of course, Kingsman is a movie invention, so the ultimate blame lies with Matthew Vaughn specifically, and Hollywood generally, for their gross oversight.


  • Valentine’s wall art includes a revolver and several pandas.
  • (-1) I hope to never again hear Colin Firth say, “popping one’s cherry.”
  • Throughout the film, hundreds of VIPs disappear. The big name missing from Valentine’s movie premier was Iggy Azalea.
  • Why is the Kingsman logo a “K” on its side?

Summary (40/68): 59%

Kingsman succeeded in paying tribute to Bond films while updating the series’s tired tropes. Kingsman, for all its staid orthodoxy, recruits several women to replace Lancelot, one of whom actually lands the job. The organization is trying to change.

Aside from the social undercurrents, Kingsman is an action movie and a damn good one. The scene in the Kentucky church is one for the ages, even if over-the-top in violence and song choice. The camera found itself in strange places and doing strange things, searing many images into the mind.

The film’s greatest act came in making Colin Firth believable as Kingsman’s top agent. Not in fighting, mind you, he could never convince as a fighter, but as someone who believes he can fight, and as a foppish dandy, he excels. Bring on the sequel!