Kingsmen: The Secret Service (2014)
February 14, 2015 3:06 PM - Subscribe

A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency's ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.
posted by leotrotsky (33 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Oh gosh, this movie was so much fun. Favorite bits: the Dire Straits opening, the Pomp and Circumstance pastel head clouds, the happy meal, and Thamuel L Jacthon.

But the church scene set to Free Bird was so over-the-top wonderful/uncomfortable/disturbing that it really takes the cake.

"...So hail Satan and good day."
posted by leotrotsky at 3:12 PM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

It was a very good James Bond pastiche with all the virtues and flaws of a Mark Millar comic. It was the small touches (like the uncomfortable over-the-topness of the church scene) that kept it from being fantastic for me.
posted by immlass at 7:34 PM on February 14, 2015

This film. That church scene. THAT CHURCH SCENE.

I haven't been si disappointed by ultra violennce since D'jango. Completely unnecessary, disturbing and movie ruining.

Samuel L was great though. Otherwise, most of the film was pretty ordinary.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:39 PM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was the only in the theater cackling his ass off during the church scene, but that might because I saw it in a churchy and hateful town. (Come on, "Freebird," man!)
posted by entropicamericana at 8:19 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Great, great fun. I was 100% entertained and so glad to be seeing it on a big screen as opposed to Netflix.

The church scene was violent, yes, but it was also cartoon-y. That said, I grew up near enough to the Westboro Baptist folks that they were ever present at graduations/funerals/random events, so maybe it was a bit of wish fulfillment. Also, no kids in the church, so it didn't cross any super bright lines for me. I was far more disturbed by mom chopping her way through the bathroom door to get to her screaming toddler.
posted by donnagirl at 8:46 PM on February 14, 2015

A+ pug action!

I started laughing hysterically during the church scene. Nobody else in the packed theater was laughing...which made me laugh even harder. My best friend leaned over and said, "it's not that funny" and I told her that, yes, yes it was.

I now want to learn how to chuck glasses at things with an umbrella handle. (I throw knives at a target in my garage so this has a possibility of actually happening.)

I will likely see this on the big screen again because I ended up wedged in the front row because everyone on the planet was at the theater tonight. Didn't think this would be so popular for valentine's day but I was wrong.

I like that Matthew Vaughn likes shooting parkour type stuff but am not sure I need to see the shot of someone running along a wall, again. I do like that he has his own style though. Toss up for me, I guess.

Was good to see Mark Strong (Merlin) not playing a complete dick.

I did love that they showed Eggsy falling for the same type stuff repeatedly and then showed him switching the glasses.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:45 PM on February 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was far more bothered by mom going after the toddler than the church scene. The church scene was just way over the top in so many ways.

I was annoyed by the ass play ending. Not that ass play was involved...just that it was there as a cheap ploy. I occasionally peg guys so I just don't think of that hole being holy, secret, taboo, or the thing I want immediately upon saving the world.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:53 PM on February 14, 2015 [2 favorites]

It was also nice to see Mark Hamill pop up in something that wasn'the voice work or SW.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 12:44 AM on February 15, 2015

It was enjoyable, but I definitely wouldn't call it good.

I do always enjoy Colin Firth playing a badass, so I did enjoy it, but the more I think about it, the more annoyed I get.

And, yes, fluffy battle kitten, it was delightful to see Mark Hamill. I now want him in everything. I want him to do all the accents, all the amazing things he's done with his voice acting, but be on screen all scruffy and adorable. Mad scientist? He can do that. Bumbling professor? He can do that. Angry dad? He's there too.

I need more Mark Hamill. Words I never thought I'd say, but so totally true.
posted by Katemonkey at 5:00 AM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

The thing about Mark Hamill is that in the original comic, it was Mark Hamill himself who was kidnapped at the beginning (and who ends up dead at the bottom of a ravine, but never mind), so the casting also works as a meta gag.

Goldman and Vaughn made a lot of changes from the comic book, actually, virtually all of them enormous improvements. I wonder whether it wasn't their intention to annoy people as much as entertain them. After this Guardian piece, I kind of enjoyed the fact that it was going to annoy people (despite the fact that I'm more likely to agree politically with the people it annoys). On the surface it's a Top Gear fantasy of a movie, but there things in it (most obviously the posh vs common theme) that are subversive in a country where more and more of our politicians, actors and even pop stars are drawn from the tiny pool of the public school educated. It's full of things that are designed to poke people with sticks - the offhand dismissal of global warming, for example, or the chapel massacre, or President Obama's head exploding. The anal sex gag (which was a bit too laddish and Loaded magazine for me) is another of those things, but that's just the stick that pokes me. It's just a shame it's right at the end of the movie, so it's the thing I take with me.

But one of the things that's most fun about the movie, for me, is that it really doesn't care what anyone thinks of it, and possibly is a little disappointed there's not been much Twitter outrage. In that way it is a throwback to the 90s of Martin Amis and Oasis, but I hated that and very much enjoyed this.

Another thing about the movie is that it's the second one I've seen recently (Paddington being the other), that is consciously playing with clichés and tropes of England and Englishness, and both embracing and attempting to subvert and possibly reinvent them.

The pub is near me, and I walk past it about once a week. It used to be like in the movie, but since they knocked down the council tower blocks next door and built yuppie flats in their place it's gone a bit up market. In any case, it's in Kennington, where a lot of MPs (especially Tory ones) have their London accommodation (there's an Indian restaurant around the corner that has lots of photos of Tory cabinet ministers that have eaten there in its window), so, yes there are lots of jobs there, though not, perhaps, for the likes of Eggsy.
posted by Grangousier at 5:34 AM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was surprised that the thing the film took most seriously -- arguably the only thing the film took seriously -- was the question of class. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, as Millar studies to be an economist and is Scottish. But I don't recall a mass audience film in recent memory that addressed the question of class as it, much less made it one of the film's central conceits. That was a pleasant surprise.
posted by maxsparber at 7:23 AM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

The relentless bleakness off putting. Humanity is a virus and the only solution is to kill off most of us. The only thing that will save us is the failure of young jerkface teenager, allowing the "villain" to succeed in mass murder, while celebrating in an underground bunker.

The Walking Dead is more upbeat.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:36 AM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I was annoyed by the ass play ending. Not that ass play was involved...just that it was there as a cheap ploy.

The thing that got me about that scene was not the ass play, which was eyerolly and whatever, but that Eggsy locked himself in the cell with the princess. You heard the door shut and I was all "so who's going to get you out that, Eggsy?". Merlin, obviously, because he was the only person left alive in the base who wasn't in a cell.
posted by immlass at 9:15 AM on February 15, 2015

I was SO disappointed in this film. Every single Bond trope hashed over for the umpty-billionth time with practically nothing new to say about it except making the new kid a chav in a world of "gentlemen". Not spoofy enough but not serious enough to go either way. And the actor who played Eggsy was just plain meh. The church scene just made me give up, and the death of Colin Firth's character immediately thereafter made the whole last part of the film completely pointless, capped by the exceptionally silly business of blowing up all the heads. I have been actively discouraging people from seeing it.
posted by briank at 9:54 AM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Humanity is a virus and the only solution is to kill off most of us.

Um you realize that the film is not expecting you to agree with the premise of the super villain, right?
posted by leotrotsky at 9:54 AM on February 15, 2015

The way the film was so cavalier about killing people for humorous effect, I'm pretty sure it was agreeing with the premise of the super villain.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:29 AM on February 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I am fascinated by the oppositeness of the ways that I viewed this movie compared to how Brandon Blather viewed this movie. I mean that sincerely and not as an insult or anything bad. I didn't find it bleak at all. Did bleak stuff happen? Absolutely. That just wasn't the overall tone for me.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 11:52 AM on February 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

The bleak tone was due, imo, to uninspiring hero in Eggsy, who was managed the neat trick of being bland while also very dislikable. Meanwhile the very likable and super-heroic Colin Firth turned out to be just a regular joe who was susceptible to the evil hypno tone as the crazy racists and promptly killed most of the people in the church.

So basically, push the right buttons on anyone and they turn into hate filled killing machines.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:45 PM on February 15, 2015

I was also hoping for a fun romp and was oddly dissatisfied and eerily annoyed at the gratuitous violence that seemed just disturbingly wrong. I got a call in the middle of the church scene so I missed a bit in the middle shutting it off. The hero certainly needs an appropriately antagonist and the mcguffin of a chip that controls the world is not even all that original, it just didn't feel right.

The secret organization had just the wrong balance of nobility, strength, pragmatic viciousness and human vulnerability. The nasty dog scene is where I think I lost favor. At that point it needed Eggsie to move a different direction and change the Kingsmen organization, in addition to saving the world, rather than just jumping in and working with them.

I liked the actor that played Eggsie but not as a lead, He seems a perfectly competent actor but just didn't have that star element needed to carry that kind of debonair vulnerable super role. A better female second with some actual chemistry would have helped.

Just too many elements not quite in balance. Not quite the right heart.
posted by sammyo at 12:23 PM on February 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

I went to see this tonight because I needed something totally escapist. It worked, on that front. I didn't think about my worries at all until the end. I was forewarned about the terrible bit with the princess at the end of the film, so I just pretended that it hadn't happened.

Of course, that only worked for two minutes, until I left the theater, sat down to tie my shoes, and overheard three different passing groups of boys repeating the "asshole" line to one another. It was literally the only thing that any of them were talking about.

I would have liked it a lot more if I hadn't witnessed that result.
posted by ocherdraco at 5:31 PM on February 27, 2015 [3 favorites]

Didn't like it. The dog scene was terrible. If you're gonna have them shoot the dog, there should be consequences. All this reinforced was 'do what you're told and everything will be all right.' Which is just the other end of 'I was following orders.' The church violence didn't bother me, it was all cartoony.

I was expecting the big reveal about Jackson's speech to be something amazing or brainwashing. Humans as a plague on the earth isn't anything new.

Meet the new guard, same as the old guard--just a bit rougher around the edges.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 2:36 PM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

Man, I thougth thath wath hilariouth.

And I enjoyed that it pushed everyone's discomfort-meter, which made me enjoy it that much more.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:43 PM on March 22, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nothing had prepared me for how bad that was.

A black, lisping supervillain is trying to save the world from global warming, which is apparently ridiculous because "of course" it's gone too far for anyone to stop?
But it's OK, because a secret non-legal terrorist organisation set up by super-rich, actual aristocrats, will stop him?
And we will have one chavvy working class boy, father killed in service of this organisation (the implication being that they just dumped the widow into poverty, no widows and orphans benefits? WTF?), who will show that if you work hard and are innately brilliant, you can prove your worth to the toffs too? Because that's clearly what you want in life?

Wait, no, I'm still stuck on the aristocracy being the good guys in this. And the horror of the Tweed overalls.

It just seemed like some weird 1% climate change denying, heavily classist, lightly racist sexist, piece of agitprop.

And really really American, but with as many bad English stereotypes as could be thrown in on the top.

We couldn't do anymore. We bailed out about half way through. Nothing I read prepared me for how evil the subtext would be.
We kept hoping it was being deliberately crap and was going to flip it at some point, even started googling reviews in case there was some reason to hang on, but it didn't look like there would be any hope in sight. An entirely gratuitous ass-slap, and out.
Does it get any better? How could I have been better prepared?
I can't see it getting better unless it is being myst3k'd?
posted by Elysum at 11:32 AM on June 7, 2015 [4 favorites]

Did everyone else spot that one of the rooms in the exploding heads sequence was the War Room from Dr Strangelove? I loved this film, with very few reservations given how much was going on in it. I thought the level of spoof was just right: loads of fun parodies and nods to other films all the way through, some of them overt and some pretty subtle; I'm sure I missed a lot. It's particularly fun that the catastrophe they're trying to avert -- killing vast numbers of people so there's plenty of space and resources for the remaining few -- strongly echoes the origins of the Kingsmen themselves.

I'm not a huge fan of action, especially when it tries to be gritty and realistic -- I got bored and/or uncomfortable watching Daredevil's sequences -- but the action here was heavily stylised, imaginatively choreographed and brilliantly shot. I didn't find it any more upsetting than seeing Porky shoot Daffy, or Buffy slaying a vampire, and for the same reason: everything is so flashy, overdone, and cartoonish. Galahad's death was jarring, as it was intended to be, as was Eggsy's mum trying to attack the baby. (Side note: who has a bathroom with a key lock, especially in what's presumably a council flat?). For me they worked in context, respectively to reframe the mood of the film (along with a nice bit of fourth wall breaking in "it's not that kind of movie"), and reintroduce a bit of genuine discomfort to a section which had been heavy on the schlock and parody.

The treatment of the new Percival sucked: she passed all the tests just as he had (and been cold enough to shoot her dog!) but in the end her only function was to look scared of heights so she could be reassured by Our Implacable Hero, and then pass on a phone message to his dear ol' mum. I was really hoping she'd pop up in the base (it was never clear which snowy waste she was parachuting down to, after all) and at least help save the day. The other thing was the princess' behaviour right at the end. I get that it's continuing the Bond parody plus a "rescuing the princess" bit, but it really felt like the main joke was his reaction to her offer, rather than the absurdity of her offering in that situation. I was really hoping they'd pull it back by having her lamp him, believing that she'd seduced one of her captors, as soon as he opened the door.

I agree that the themes through the film are pretty bleak, but I think it's worth bearing in mind that, mostly, they're being espoused by either a genocidal madman or representatives of an organisation that, as Galahad and Eggsy both explicitly point out, is suffering from its hidebound and outdated nature.

That said, I was disappointed to see Eggsy in the suit when he comes to the pub right at the end, looking like he'd gone completely native as a Kingsman. After all the stuff about class in the film -- that Kingsmen needed to modernise and come away from its strictly upper class core, and that Eggsy's competitors were foolish to judge him by his class -- being allowed to join the upper class was Eggsy's happy ending. 'Salt of the earth commoner shows the upper classes how it's done' is hardly a new story (of course they know this, and name half a dozen examples in the film; I'd have added Men in Black), but it's still disappointing to see it come to nothing.
posted by metaBugs at 5:34 PM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I finally watched this and despite Colin Firth & Mark Strong, the bad outweighed the good for me. I did like the class commentary. I liked Eggy fine, though I don't think he was strong enough to carry his part. Samuel Jackson completely failed, imo. He was phoning it in and his character had zero charisma, wasn't very smart, wasn't very interesting... you need to your villain to be compelling, dammit!

And the unrelenting sexism. Ugh. Victim-y mom. A young woman bad-ass enough to become a Kingsman, and yet apparently utterly incapable. The hench-woman whose whole job is to have deadly legs.

That last "asshole" scene just knocked it into 1983 cringe territory- hero is rewarded with hot girl, who is, in her current position, not entirely capable of consent. Bleh. I assume they were going for a 1960s Bond send-up but it was very distasteful for me.

The exploding heads came out of left field for me, too- suddenly we're in a Japanese comic book!

That said, I actually enjoyed the church scene. Usually gratuitous violence bugs me but the awesomeness of Mr. Darcy cartoonishly vanquishing the entire Westboro Baptist Church was too much fun for me to resist. And I'm glad they picked them, and not an ISIS mosque full of anonymous robed faceless people, which is where I would have guessed it would go.

Michael Caine was wasted in this movie, too.

EDIT: Stealth edit: That dog scene bugged me because [SPOILER] a blank at that range would have killed it just as much as a real bullet.
posted by small_ruminant at 3:01 PM on August 15, 2015

Stealth edit: That dog scene bugged me because [SPOILER] a blank at that range would have killed it just as much as a real bullet.

That bugged you?
What about the parachute scene?
If only one person doesn't have a parachute, then awesome! Everybody but two 'minders' pull their parachutes, and you are guaranteed to have either discovered which person didn't have their parachute, and arrange for one of the 'minders' to cling to them, or the 'minders' cling together and test one at a time.
In a team of about to be super spies, not a single person has the smarts to figure that out? Everyone in this film is supposed to be relentlessly stupid.
Don't think too hard about anything. Especially the tests, nothing makes sense.

The class commentary was evil. Surface level, yay, a working boy can do well against the toffs? But subtext, the only measure of success for a working class boy is to emulate and become a toff. Not just, achieve success in life, but fully camouflage all class markers. Which would be like pointing out Rita Hayworth's career for an example of how Spanish/latina actresses weren't affected by racism (with electrolysis, hair dye and skin bleaching!).
Eh, not just here, but in several reviews online I've essentially seen, oh, it was sexist and racist, but the class commentary was ok... Very different definitions of classism, clearly.
posted by Elysum at 8:58 AM on August 16, 2015

Haha yeah there were a zillion things like the parachute scene. The misconception that blanks are harmless is just a pet peeve of mine.
posted by small_ruminant at 8:58 PM on August 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

This just showed up on Canadian Netflix. I liked it; I thought it had pretty good energy and pacing and I'm always up for a new adventure in the Bond mold. I did think the anal sex thing at the end was juvenile and creepy, and struck me as just dumb. The violence was cartoonish enough that it didn't bother me. The class-consciousness was somewhat interesting, but ended up being like a chekov's gun that never fired. It would have been more satisfying if his chav background had somehow saved the day, but nope.

The lead actor was okay but didn't really have star quality. He never quite seemed comfortable in his chav outfit or in the suit.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 8:49 AM on November 7, 2015

It would have been more satisfying if his chav background had somehow saved the day, but nope.

That's how he defeated Michael Caine!
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:08 PM on November 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

You're right, the movie does more or less explicitly make that claim. Thinking back, they do also demonstrate that Eggsy is light-fingered by having him lift car keys from the douchebro at the start of the film. But I would argue that 1) to really carry that narrative weight, there should have been much more grounding of this aspect of Eggsy's character, and 2) "switching the cups" is a spy movie cliché. I would expect that manoeuvre, and slight of hand in general, would be part of the standard Kingsman curriculum. It wouldn't have been at all surprising to see any of Eggsy's classmates pulling off the same trick.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 10:45 PM on November 7, 2015

I liked it, on the balance. The "get the princess" ending is (like everything else with the Kingsmen) probably meant to be part of the winking genre pastiche that they're going for, but I agree, that it's got some really gross elements to it that aren't entirely necessary.

Regardless, it reminds me of Snowpiercer (spoilers for that). Eggsy, even being a chav, repeats the same scene of Galahad in the pub. The 'revolution', such that it exists, is meaningless, and the class system repeats itself endlessly. V's noble goal of saving the planet isn't to reduce consumption, or to spread resources equitably, it's to build an ark of the super rich and then kill everyone else. The Kingsmen are made to preserve the status quo while occasionally letting a lucky singleton come up into nobility. They're two sides of the same coin. So, Snowpiercer, but without that movie's somewhat optimistic ending.
posted by codacorolla at 6:36 PM on February 14, 2016

Just saw this last night. I didn't like it much, though there were certainly some good things in it. Colin Firth was so enjoyable as an offhand posh uber spy. His reaction to the WBC-style sermon and his "Hail Satan" speech were amazing. But then he wiped out a church full of people (terrible people, but still people), then got killed, and it was all downhill from there. The humour was a little too broad and farcical for me. I doubt I'm going to bother to watch the sequel.
posted by orange swan at 6:15 PM on May 16, 2018

(randomly watched the sequel and LAFFED MY ASS OFF. I suspect it might be a rich fucking text on American hegemony in this exact moment but I could't stop laughing long enough to string a thesis together)
posted by mwhybark at 9:27 PM on February 8, 2019

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