“Kingsman: The Secret Service” makes for fun addition to spy genre

Screenshot by Joshua Collier/The Skyline View

When you think of spies, what pops into your mind? Do you think of a suave world traveler like James Bond or a relentless hard-hitter like Jason Bourne? The Knights of the Kingsman Secret Service combine the best of both worlds, well-spoken, dressed to the nines, British gentlemen who’ll take you apart at the seams and shoot you down if need be.

Based on a comic book by Mark Millar, creator of such series as “Kick-Ass” and “Superior”, the film follows a pretty cliched story. Young, gifted street thug Eggsy gets recruited by super secret agent Harry Hart to join the ultra secret British spy agency, The Kingsmen. He’s got to prove himself and take on the bad guy, played pretty humorously by Samuel L Jackson, and save the world. Other than the general story that’s been done time and time again in other actions movies, many other parts of the movie separate it from past comedic action movies.

Since this comic book was from Mark Millar who’s other series like “Wanted” and “Kick-Ass” have over-the-top violence, you can expect the same from this movie adaptation. With bad guys being taken out with hails of bullets or dismemberment by the villaness’ prosthetic sword legs, there’s enough ridiculous action to please anyone. For me, it really stood out not just because it was crazy but because of how well choreographed it was.

Every fight scene was full blown. Kicks, punches, knives, guns, grenades, even weaponized umbrellas were thrown around. The shots that director Matthew Vaughn put into the scenes were the utmost pleasing to that violent part of my brain that craves teeth shattering punches and flying dismembered limbs. It was quick and brutal, but at the same time the fights weren’t the incomprehensible blurs that you see in other modern action films.

The best example is the church scene, which, while there was utter mayhem as dozens of a hardcore, right wing church-goers maimed and murdered each other in horrifically gleeful violence, still allowed you to keep track of what was going on. Every inch of the screen was filled with blood, guts, explosions and gunshots, all with Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” blaring out the theater’s speakers, and it was never difficult to see what was going on.

Apart from the punching scenes, I really appreciated the story, even though, as I said, it was a bit cliched in a general sense. “Kingsmen” did a lot of things I enjoyed and don’t see often in movies. There was a sense of self-awareness in the writing that tickled my fancy, like Sam Jackson’s character telling a story about growing up idolizing the over the top villain in Bond films, his character of course being a lisping, modern billionaire who aspires to kill billions yet can’t stand the sight of blood.

The story even winks at the street character turned model protagonist trope with mentions of “Pretty Woman” or “My Fair Lady”. Another good aspect of the story line is the lack of a forced romance subplot, which hindered some recent movies such as “The Hobbit”. While Eggsy does befriend another possible Kingsman recruit, they remain only friends, with no knowing winks or lingering touches tainting the integrity of their bond, and it only served as a refreshing change from other Hollywood ventures that just have to have the young, reformed thug fall in love and change the views of a stubborn shrew woman.

“Kingsmen” has a job to fill as it transitions from indie print to screen. Among the giants Marvel has to offer, it’s one of suave, brutal violence, comic book based humor, and at the very least a workable plot. If there are things the movie does right, it’s definitely those. The fights will get your heart pounding and the jokes and likable story will keep you in your seat.