Livia Meneghin || Senior Staff Writer
I recently took a trip to the local Regal Cinema to watch Kingsman: The Secret Service with my roommate Alex.
Alex was familiar with the graphic novel and inspiration for the film, where I was not. Still, the trailers hinted at a lot of action and I obviously was intrigued seeing Samuel L. Jackson in monochrome outfits and baseball caps alongside Mr. Darcy, I mean Colin Firth. And not to mention, Taron Egerton, the movie’s young protagonist, looked pretty fine trying to escape a water-filled room. The suspense was killing me.
Director Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, Kickass, X-Men: First Class) certainly took the phrase “killing it” and spun it on its head.
The Secret Service (2012) is a comic book series written by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons featuring protagonist Gary London, who learns how to be a gentleman spy under the guidance his Uncle Jack London (no, not that Jack London. I was confused too.)
Vaughn’s film very loosely takes from Millar and Gibbons’ story, reinventing characters and plotlines in very unusual and entertaining ways.
Gary “Eggsy” Unwin’s father dies on a Kingsman mission when Eggsy (Egerton) is just a toddler. After getting in trouble with the law as a young adult, Eggsy calls the phone number on a medallion he was given as a boy, and is aided by Harry Hart (Firth). Hart feels obliged to repay Eggsy’s father for having sacrificed his life to save the Kingsman, and recruits Eggsy to become a gentleman spy.
So far so good. Besides a slightly ridiculous bar fight in which Hart takes on a group of men with a weaponized umbrella, the movie felt normally entertaining.
For his training, Eggsy joins a group of other young adults, albeit more preppy and high brow, and there is some tension, and some friendship. Eggsy bonds with Roxy, and my mind eagerly filled in the gaps, awaiting their love to blossom in typical Hollywood fashion. (They actually don’t get together!)
After the movie, Alex told me that the graphic novel was explicit and violent, but no where near the extent of the Kentucky Church scene. Moviegoers got to witness almost five whole minutes of villain Valentine controlling the minds of rural super-Christians into beating the Be-jesus out of each other.
Hart is also possessed, creating the most carnage. Eyes popped out, heads were impaled, throats were sliced. For again, nearly an uninterrupted full five minutes.
Hart makes it out alive, and confronts Valentine outside the church.
Hart and Valentine converse and Valentine shoots Hart in the head, reacting quite innocently to my surprise, telling his assistant with bionic legs, Gazelle, that he doesn’t feel good after killing someone. Ironic, since he indirectly just killed about 100 people. This, along with serving McDonalds on a silver platter for a dinner meeting, is just one of the bizarre attributes of the villain.
The movie ends with Eggsy, Roxy (now official Kingsman, Galahad) and Merlin (Kingsman) saving the world and killing many of Valentine’s henchman, including Gazelle.
Moviegoers received mixed messages as disco music and rainbow colored explosions accompanied scenes of mass violence on the beaches of Rio, at a Cyclones baseball game in Brooklyn, and in the streets of London. I found myself laughing at the bizarreness of what I was witnessing, but immediately felt waves of guilt. The ridiculousness and graphic nature of the massacre exceeded the gore in the graphic novels according to Alex, but still, its pairing with the light and humorous music was unique to Vaughn’s strategy as a director and successfully toyed with my emotions.
As I walked out of the theater with Alex, my first reaction was, that movie was bizarre. But I liked really it.
The combination of violence and humor twisted at my core. The ridiculous yet sound plotline kept my attention, and the variety of celebrity in the cast maintained my intrigue.
I would be curious where any possible sequels would take the graphic novels’ original stories; still, just as Kingsman plays with the opposing ideas of gentleman and badass, I am sure subsequent films would have even more guns and even more fun.
Livia Meneghin is a senior staff writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.