Let me preface this by saying that the screening I attended was an “unrated” version of the film. As such, there could be disparities between this review and the version of the film. I will try to point out areas of which I believe the film was still under construction in so you can take my criticism of such with a grain of salt.
It is rare to have a marketing campaign, especially one that has subtly been pushing a film for over a year now, avoid spoiling the film from over exposure. I can happily say that ever since watching the Kingsman, I’ve come to appreciate the trailers I’ve seen on TV, knowing that they have yet to reveal many of the best elements of the film: no major jokes or twists (though there aren’t many) are given away.
I also have to laud 20th Century Fox for their focus on word-of-mouth. After an initial invite over a month ago for a free screening of Kingsman I have since received TEN MORE INVITATIONS! While I am sure there will be a decent number of critics that enjoy Kingsman, 20th Century Fox understands that their perceived core audience, teenage boys/young men, care more about what our friends say and not a group of old, white men.
Kingsman: The Secret Service centers on Eggsy, a delinquent kid played by Taron Egerton who is less a punk and rather a directionless teen with good intentions. He is recruited by codename Galahad to join the Kingsman, an organization that is self-funded and therefore has no jurisdiction or restrictions that government secret services worry about. Eggsy must compete in what codename Merlin (played by Mark Strong) calls “the most dangerous job interview in the world”. If he can survive the tests then perhaps he’ll have a chance against stopping billionaire and tech-genius Valentine, whose villainous plan could mean the end of billions of lives.
There are so many archetypal characters featured throughout Kingsman that to stay meta rather than appearing as just a James Bond rip-off requires on-point performances. We’ve all seen the grizzled mentor, haunted by past mistakes; the tech-savvy and gadget obsessed assistant; the boy from the wrong side of the tracks but with all the right moves. I won’t go as far as to say that Colin Farrell, Mark Strong, or Michael Caine as head of the Kingsman portray revolutionary versions of these characters, but the writing provides just enough twists (mainly in the way of quick quips or other bits of humor) to wink at the audience in a manner of self-awareness and not just parody.
Sadly, most of the characters I want to talk about haven’t gotten much coverage in previews and I wish not to overindulge you. I expected Samuel L. Jackson to blow a role like this out of the water, but not in the way his character is actually molded. The trailers up to this point have done such a wonderful job hiding much of what makes Valentine great and easily gets the most laughs in the film. I’d put this up with one of his top ten performances, though it’d be rated higher if he got a chance to say his famous catchphrase. Also, keep an eye out for his assistance, Gazelle played by Sofia Boutella, who should join Odd Job and Jaws in the Hall of Fame of Henchman. There is also a splendid little cameo within the first ten minutes that true geeks will enjoy explaining to their buddies who miss it.
I cannot tell you how happy I am that Kingsman is being released with an R-rating. In my screening there appeared to be placeholder graphics or lack thereof where excessive gore would more than likely fill in if the movie was restricted to those under 17 without a guardian. Essentially, none of the blood and guts that were throughout Kick-Ass appeared. Now with the secured R-rating, I hope that the numerous moments in which brain matter and torn flesh should be prominent are featured to their goriest. Understand this, Kingsman is a great film, regardless of the outcome of the brutality, but it’d be an even better film with the visceral damage included.
Now, if I may, I’d like to address my fellow female readers directly. If you are not a fan of gore, Kick Ass, or James Bond, Kingsman is still a better option than 50 Shades of Grey. Girls, Taron Egerton is way hotter than Jamie Dornan as not Sheriff Graham from Once Upon a Time, so do yourself a favor and go see Kingsman instead. Also, I’d advise putting up somewhat of a fight so that your boyfriend will buy the tickets because, after all, it is Valentine’s Day weekend.