“Kingsmen: The Secret Service” is the kind of movie Hollywood has not made in years.
When the “Austin Powers” franchise mocked James Bond, the future Bond films took on a serious tone to avoid being laughed at as well. However, “Kingsmen” does the opposite and embraces the campy nature of sexy superspies in finely-tailored suits, along with evil geniuses bent on destroying the world.
Colin Firth, going by codename “Galahad,” steals the show. Firth as an action hero sounds like it would go about as well as Arnold Schwarzenegger playing King Lear, but Firth actually nails it, giving the film it’s most confident performance.
Samuel L. Jackson has similar success playing against type as Valentine, an evil tech billionaire who is horrified by violence. Jackson shed more blood in his onscreen career than many Third World dictators have in real life, so it elicits plenty of laughs to have him covering his eyes while his minions kill people.
Like most of Jackson’s movies these days, “Kingsmen” is based off a comic book. The same could be said for most movies Hollywood makes now. It might just be easier to start telling audiences when something is not based off a comic book. Regardless, “Kingsmen” does a great job of melding that style with classic Bond and ends up putting a fresh spin on both genres.
As fresh as that spin is, the heart of the story is still derivative and predictable, and “Kingsmen” seems to think it is cooler than it really is, making a few self-referential jokes that are more cocky than clever. Picture a football team winning their first game of the season and calling themselves Super Bowl favorites.
“Kingsmen” deserves credit as a fun and edgy revival of a dying film style; and yet, I cannot help wondering how good the movie could have been with more of its own identity. Hopefully the inevitable sequel gets more than a 007 out of a 0010.