Late Geek Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

I try to go to the movies at least once a week, usually to see a new release, but there honestly wasn’t a single thing I felt like seeing this past weekend.  It happens.

Besides, Jimmy chided me on not having seen Kingsman: The Secret Service once, I did recently read and review the source material, and there’s a sequel coming up, so here we are.

Quick question:  why did this movie seem more like an actual Mark Millar-written comic book than the actual Mark Millar-written comic book is was based on?

That’s an odd question to ask.  I have mixed feelings on Millar’s work in general.  I find his characters often shallow and the stories superficial.  In many ways, that makes them ideal for cinematic adaptation.  The spectacle seems to be all there is in many cases.  That can make for a fun comic book, but not necessarily a deep one.  That’s what makes this movie adaptation so weird.  The original Kingsman story is actually rather tame by Millar standards.  Aside from some head shots, there isn’t much in the way of crazy violence.

This movie outdoes that in the first few minutes, and that’s not getting into the conclusion.

But the comic only provided a bare bones plot for the movie to work off.  Heck, all but three characters had their names changed:  Eggsy, James Arnold, and Gazelle, and both Arnold and Gazelle were altered a bit seeing as how Arnold was the main villain’s name in the original story and Gazelle was a man in the source material.  The bad guy’s master plan is still there, as is how Eggsy was recruited for a spy service despite coming from a poor, working-class background, and a few other superficial details.

But let’s move past that and look at the movie itself.  Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of a secret spy organization originally funded by rich English aristocrats whose heirs died in the first World War, looking to keep the peace without all that nasty government getting in the way.  If you think that the movie is suggesting that some old, rich white guys seemed to know what was best for everyone…really, you should not think about the politics of this movie for a second.  For what it’s worth, the movie is aware that this problem exists and does make allowances for it.  After the death of a longtime agent codenamed Lancelot, agent Harry “Galahad” Hart (Colin Firth) selects a potential replacement in the form of another long dead agent’s now-adult son, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton).  Meanwhile, tech billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson with a weird lisp for some reason) is hatching an involved scheme to end the problem of climate change by decreasing the human population by a few billion.

Featuring some crazy gadgets, excessive violence (man, that church scene), and a dark sense of humor, it’s easy to see why audiences flocked to this unexpected hit.  It really is the most pure Mark Millar possible story on film.  Eight and a half Bond references out of ten.

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