Peter Suderman Reviews Kingsman: The Secret Service


Twentieth Century Fox

Matthew Vaughn's latest graphic novel adaptation is a rowdy, violent, populist, high-style spy fantasia. I kind of loved it.

Here's the opening to my review:

It's fitting that the international spy agency at the center of "Kingsman: The Secret Service" operates out of a high-end tailor shop on Savile Row. The movie's characters are perfectly costumed, and the movie itself is impeccably stylish.

Director Matthew Vaughn's latest graphic novel adaptation has verve, wit and flair, against which it juxtaposes a joyously vulgar populism. It's a spectacular crowd pleaser, tailor-made for the masses — and the moment.

"Kingsman" is a movie for the 99 percent, and not just those encumbered with the academic leftism of the Occupy Wall Street crowd. The villain is Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson, in his most memorable role in years), a fashionable tech zillionaire with a comic lisp that, surprisingly, gets more funny than irritating. Valentine is a prototypical Davos-type, a devout liberal and dedicated climate change activist who has given billions of dollars to the cause, only to be defeated repeatedly. He decides that more drastic — and, one discovers, deadly — measures are needed, although the world's moneyed elite are, of course, exempt.

The movie's populism is distinctly conservative — there are explicit shout-outs to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher — but it is neither preachy nor entirely predictable.

Instead of earnest dogmatism, Mr. Vaughn opts for a mix of smirking satire and flippant wit. Spy movies are as much a target as any political agenda.

In particular, "Kingsman" is a sendup of James Bond as well as an homage to his legacy.

Read the whole review here

One thing I didn't note in my review: It's the first big Hollywood movie to kill President Obama

NEXT: Ronald Bailey Explains How Public Health Precaution Helped Fuel the Anti-Vaccine Movement

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  1. Fucking spoilers much?

  2. “Kingsman” is a movie for the 99 percent

    I have never been so happy not to be a part of that group.

  3. I don’t know, Peter, the commercials for this looked fucking insipid, and Hollywood has perfected making a shitty movie look tolerable through carefully constructed commercials. If it looks insipid in the commercial, it probably is.

    I did enjoy Kick-Ass, though. So maybe it isn’t insipid. I’m sure as hell not wasting the money to go find out. If I’m going to bother doing that I’d probably see Chappie.

    1. + Nicholas cage losing his shit.

      1. “I don’t know–if I was in 70 films over 30 years, and spent each one talking at random volumes, I might accidentally win an Oscar.”

        1. You do enough movies and eventually you wind up playing yourself and looking like a great actor.

          1. “I thought the meaning of people was somewhere in here. Then I looked inside Nicolas Cage and I found a secret–people are random and pointless.”

            1. Yes. See for example his character in Adaptation and his part in Matchstick Men. Talk about random and pointless.

          2. Nicolas Cage is a great actor. He just ends up in a lot of weakass movies.

            1. Give Cage the right role in the right movie and you can get a great performance, especially certain weird roles that just work for him, like Vampire’s Kiss, Raising Arizona, Kick-Ass, Face/Off (ridiculous but fun nonetheless), Wild at Heart, even Valley Girl. But man if he’s in the wrong role or the wrong movie…ouch.

              “There’s a two day course called ‘Nicolas Cage: Good or Bad?’ I’m signing up–I’ve always wanted to know.”

              1. NOT THE BEEEEEEEEEEES

                1. WHY IS THE DOLL BURNED?!

                  1. The clip of him repeatedly beating the shit out of women from that is hilarious. Man, Neil LaBute really doesn’t like women.

                  2. ::Dresses in a bear suit and punches Riven out::

                2. NOT THE BEEEEEEEEEEES

                  That was a comedy, right? Right?

              2. It is called not being a very good actor or one with a limited range. Those parts all are likely close to some aspect of Cage’s real personality and thus are easy for him to play.

                Really skilled actors can play parts that are nothing any other part they have played. The opposite of Cage in those parts is Henry Fonda in Once Upon a Time in the West. Here is Mr. Roberts playing one of the most loathsome villains ever put to film and doing it so well your preconceived image of him goes straight out the window. Someone who is that big of a movie star and has that much of a known screen persona shouldn’t be able to do it, but he does. That is great acting.

                1. I think Nicholas Cage is a good actor based on Adaptation, where he plays two very different characters. I just don’t think he’s very smart so he doesn’t know how to pick movies or directors to work with.

                  1. I’ve actually personally met Mr. Cage a few times at the Metropolitan Opera in NYC and he strikes me as pretty smart. I think he’s more of an actor in the vein of Christopher Walken, who also stars in a lot of movies, most of which are shit, but once in a while, magic strikes.

                2. I just saw that for the first time. Having seen Fonda in mostly good guy roles, it was weird seeing him so evil.

                  1. I have that on my TiVo. Ima watch this weekend.

                3. +1 Claudia Cardinale

                  hubba hubba

                  1. I was going nuts trying to remember who she was when I watched that film a couple of months ago.

              3. Nicolas Cage pretending to be John Travolta pretending to be Nicolas Cage pretending to be an insane over-the-top terrorist was a great role.

                It’s a shame that he played second banana to John Woo’s fucking pigeons.

        2. + an infinite amount of monkeys and typewriters

    2. You can’t always judge a movie by its commercials. The commercials look insipid because the people this movie is marketed to want insipid. It may be that the commercials make it look more insipid than it is in the same way they make movies look funnier than they are by showing you the only three funny scenes.

      Judging from Suderman’s review, it probably isn’t bad.

      1. I’ve spent years honing my ability to get a sense of a movie from its commercials and clips (on talk shows, etc). I’ve gotten pretty good at it. It hasn’t really failed me in a long time, so…I don’t know. I’m not going to rule out seeing it once it goes to cable/DVD, but with this much doubt I’m never going to drop $11 to see it in a theater. Well, maybe if it shows at The Big Picture and I can get martinis delivered to me during the movie. With olives stuffed with blue cheese. Hmm.

        1. I have the same ability. I wish there was a futures market where you could bet on the success of major release movies. If there was, I wouldn’t have to work anymore.

          My feeling from watching the commercials is like yours. It just screams flop. Also, if it is any good, why the hell are they releasing it in February when the market is down instead of this summer where the big money is to be had?

          That said, Suderman’s review makes me think it might not be too bad.

          1. ROTFL

            Believe it or not there was going to be.

            2 years ago I worked with a Cantor Fitzgerald group that was building an app (as in IPhone and Android app) to do mobile currency futures trading.

            The original design of the system however was exactly what you said, trading in movie futures.

            Problem is someone in Hollywood got wind of it and they talked to someone in Washington and they got a line inserted into Dodd Frank that specifically made trading in movie futures illegal

            1. That sucks. And the only reason Hollywood killed it is that it would show what morons the studio execs are as various people outside the industry made money betting against them.

              1. In the 90s there was a website that had some kind of stock trading thing where you bought “stock” in different actors and then hoped their value increased based on some factors that I can’t remember. I tried it for a while, it was kind of fun, but ultimately pointless as it wasn’t dealing in real money. If your portfolio value increased, I think you could trade in your fake money for pretty lame purchases. I don’t remember what it was called.

                1. I don’t want to buy stock in actors with fake money. I want to buy stock in movies with real money.

                  1. This is the app we built…


                    the original design you would have been buying options on opening weekend numbers, per theater numbers, total domestic revenue, etc.

                    Of course you would have been “betting” against the other users and not the house, we would have just taken a portion of each trade as a processing fee.

                    1. It is just paramutual betting on movies. I love it. That is a brilliant idea. Fuck Dodd Frank with a chainsaw for stopping it.

                  2. And wow here is an actual article about the original design…


                2. Yup:

                  I was way into HSX during the late 90s. I abruptly lost interest, and had not even thought about it until reading your comment. Turns out, it is still around.

        2. It seems like Kingsman was aiming for the Tarantino take a low-brow sub-genre from cinema’s past (the spaghetti Western, Blaxploitation, Shaw Brothers 70’s chop-socky, etc.) and do the modern meta-homage thing.

          The thing is, if I want that I’ll go to the source. That having been said, I would have loved to have seen Tarantino’s take on 60’s spy films.

          1. Speaking of Commando, I would like to see Tarantino’s take on 80s-bodybuilder-violence-and-one-liners movies.

            1. People have tried. I don’t think anyone can pull that off, because those movies required a certain 80s gestalt that just doesn’t exist any more. Plus they required a young Arnold, and we certainly don’t have that any more.

              1. Not even the writers of Farcry: Blood Dragon?

                1. Blood Dragon only really works so well because it blatantly rips off already made 80s movies, everything from the constant Commando references to its Terminator combat music.

              2. I am surprised someone hasn’t taken on Conan. That wouldn’t require 80s gestalt and as far as the body builder part, that is what steroids are for.

                1. John, Conan was remade with Khal Drogo as Conan. It was so terrible that I turned it off after the beginning where he’s still a child. And that was high on Vicodin and booze in Maui, where anything should have been tolerable.

              3. True, but the spaghetti western doesn’t work anymore, and he pulled off Django.

                1. He barely pulled of Django. I don’t really consider that a “win” for throwback stuff.

                  1. He barely pulled of Django. I don’t really consider that a “win” for throwback stuff.

                    I’m glad I’m not the only one disappointed with Django.

              4. Wasn’t Machete exactly that?

            2. I like that idea. You remake bad movies not good ones. So I wouldn’t want him to touch the good 80s action movies like the Terminator or Lethal Weapon. I would love however to see him take on Commando or one of the Jean Claude Van Damn flicks. I am not even much of a Tarantino fan and I think that would work.

              1. There isn’t enough to a Van Damme movie to remake one. Maybe Bloodsport. But what people don’t realize is that it wasn’t the plots that made these movies so fun. It was the personalities and charisma of the leading actors. 80s action movies ruled because of the personal charisma and ridiculousness of the guys in them. Arnold, Van Damme, Seagal, Carl Weathers, Stallone…they made that shit. And there isn’t anyone like them any more.

                1. That is a good point Episiarch. The reason why there isn’t anyone to play that way anymore is irony. Those guys pulled being so over the top off because they played it straight. They owned it and did it fearlessly and without a single hint of irony. No one does that anymore. Now, the actor would play the part ironically and laugh at himself in the movie to preempt us laughing at him. And that won’t work.

                  1. Sure there is, there’s TONS of guys like that. They all happen to be under contract with the WWE however

                    1. Rassilio,

                      You are right. And the only guy recently who has made movies like the ones Episiarch is describing is The Rock.

                    2. John Cena could be a halfway decent B-movie action star, I think.

                    3. Cena has done a couple of action movies but I haven’t seen them so I am not sure how good he is or how good they are.

                    4. Yep, and The Rock is a perfect example becuase he’s actually shown the same kind of range that Arnold developed.

                      He can do comedy, serious movies, and 80’s style big budget explosions and one liner movies

                2. Right, absolutely. I guess what I’m asking for is for Arnold in his prime to be directed by Tarantino in his prime. It would have been a lot of fun.

                3. JCVD was a really good movie.

      2. What’s wrong with insipid? We let Episiarch comment here.

        … oh, Hi Episiarch! Didn’t see you there.

        1. You’re a funny guy, Paul. I like you. That’s why I’m going to kill you last. And your mom.

    3. At least Chappie doesn’t look anywhere near as stupid as Elysium did. Because damn.

      1. Blomkamp is gonna keep beating that horse until it stops being dead.

        1. After District 9, which was this extremely refreshing turn for movie scifi after craps like Avatar, it’s amazing how quickly he devolved into lowest common denominator bullshit that makes no sense even in the context of the movie’s universe.

          1. I didn’t know he made anything after District 9?

  4. The movie’s populism is distinctly conservative ? there are explicit shout-outs to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher ? but it is neither preachy nor entirely predictable.

    Well then, I suppose we toss this movie in the same bin we toss KKKlint Eastwood movies…

    1. I am sure Sheldon Richman is penning an article about the evils of Kingsman nationalism and how Samuel L. Jackson is really just like Adam Lanza as we speak.

      1. Actually, Jackson is far, far more depraved.

    2. No, this movie goes into the insipid drivel bin. Eastwood’s movies go into the boring schmaltz bin. Two totally different bins.

      1. Bullshit. Plenty of Eastwoods movies are anything but that. Exactly what is schmaltz about Josey Wales or Dirty Harry or Unforgiven? Schmaltz is getting the girl, not being forced to murder the bad guy and leaving alone living with the price of doing it.

        1. Speaking of Dirty Harry, I highly recommend the documentary Milius, the great “Zen anarchist” under-appreciated writer and director who wrote that film. He was one of the ’70s USC Film School mafia along with Lucas and Spielberg. John, I think you’d like the film The Wind and the Lion if you haven’t seen it already.

          1. I have not seen the Milius doc. I will have to watch that. And I do like t he Wind and the Lion. That is the Candice Bergan desert flick right?

            If you haven’t seen it, Hearts of Darkness is a documentary about the filming of Apocalypse Now. It has a good amount of Milius and is a great documentary.

            1. It’s excellent and well worth watching. As is Hearts of Darkness.

              I sure hope Coppola is right about Milius being healthy enough to direct again.

            2. Just be warned, John, the documentary is very good but (SPOILER!) at the end they show Milius after his stroke and it is depressing as hell. At that point (as I understand it he’s recovered some) he couldn’t even speak properly, let alone write. Ugh. So depressing.

              1. Very depressing. I might just fast forward past that part. Milius has a debilitating stroke and Spike Lee and Aaron Sorkin will no doubt be productive into their 90s. God hates America.

                1. There’s been some news that he’s gotten much better, though not 100%, of course.

          2. I second the Milius doc, never had any idea that so many big and disparate movies had the same writer behind them

          3. I second the Milius doc, never had any idea that so many big and disparate movies had the same writer behind them

            1. He’s done some amazing work. The USC Mafia for the win.

              1. Mid to late 60s Los Angeles must of been an amazing place.

                1. There really was a renaissance in filmmaking. Quite incredible, looking back. We could use another one of those.

      2. Next you’ll be saying that Spielberg never made a good movie.

        1. The last 2/3 of Hook was amazing.

          1. When the aliens showed up… I remember that.

      3. Hugh, do you mean all of his films or just the stuff he does these days? I really like most of his westerns.

        1. I’m limiting it to the stuff he’s directed since the 90s. I haven’t seen anything before that except for High Plains Drifter. But everything from Unforgiven on has been total garbage.

          1. Well, I don’t know about everything since then being garbage, but leaving that aside, I do highly recommend The Outlaw Josey Wales and Pale Rider.

            1. Dyin’ ain’t much of a livin’.

              1. When I get to likin’ someone, they ain’t around long.

            2. Both are in my queue. I’m interested to see if Josey Wales is the Jonah Hex movie we never got.

              1. I’d say yes, Hugh. It’s a surprisingly good movie.

              2. Both are in my queue. I’m interested to see if Josey Wales is the Jonah Hex movie we never got.

                I can’t wait for another episode of Hugh Reviews the Classics

                1. My movie reviews on the gryll can prove somewhat controversial. The consensus view is that I’m wrong about everything.

                  1. You can’t have worse movie taste than Cytotoxic. I mean it’s literally impossible.

      4. Oh fuck you, you’ve obviously never seen an Eastwood movie other than Mystic River while you were on your period. Fuck off.

  5. On a related note: This season of Archer has been aces, right? Even with the death of Phrasing.

    1. It’s been OK. Better than last season, at least. This new season of Always Sunny hasn’t been the best either, which is unfortunate because last season was surprisingly good, a throwback to seasons 1-4.

      1. I am still waiting for season 2 of Andy Barker PI. 🙁

      2. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I only started watching Sunny last month. I’m halfway through season 2, and so far the show is as good as everyone says. I should’ve listened years ago!

    2. I didn’t make it through the last season and I haven’t started on this one. I suppose I should give it a try.

      1. Get stoned, it helps with last season.

        1. I now hear H. Jon Benjamin’s voice as Bob Belcher, not Sterling Archer. It makes watching Archer a little weird.

          1. I now hear H. Jon Benjamin’s voice as Bob Belcher, not Sterling Archer. It makes watching Archer a little weird.

            Try this, go back and watch episodes of Dr. Katz

            You may have to google that if you weren’t “there” in the 90s

            1. Well Ben has some vocal differences. Coach McGuirk, on the other hand, is uncut Benjamin.

            2. I remember when Dr. Katz was on Comedy Central. I could never get past the purposefully shitty animation to actually watch any episodes.

              1. I loved that show.

              2. I remember when Dr. Katz was on Comedy Central. I could never get past the purposefully shitty animation to actually watch any episodes.

                You did yourself a disservice.

                Show was the funniest thing going back then.

          2. I’m guessing that S4E01 must have been really difficult for you to watch.

          3. The characters are distinct enough that, even though his voice has the same tenor, I find it very easy to distinguish between them. The aggressiveness and confidence in Archer’s voice is different from the general apathy in Bob’s voice.

          4. “Lucy: The Daughter of the Devil” was underwatched and underappreciated, I think.

  6. Didn’t they just release this movie with Johnny Depp? Mortecai?

  7. Just got back from an 11:30 showing. Loved it. If you loved Kick Ass, you’ll love this film.

  8. Caden. I just agree… Patrick`s st0rry is astonishing, last tuesday I got a top of the range Land Rover Defender sincee geting a check for $6814 this last 4 weeks and in excess of 10k last month. it’s certainly the coolest job Ive had. I actually started……………


  9. Sounds like a solid plan to me dude.

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