Kingsman: The Secret Service
|Kingsman: The Secret Service|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Matthew Vaughn|
|Based on||The Secret Service
by Mark Millar
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$414.4 million|
Kingsman: The Secret Service is a British-American spy action-comedy film  directed by Matthew Vaughn, and based on the comic book The Secret Service, created by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar. The screenplay was written by Vaughn and Jane Goldman. It follows the recruitment and training of a potential secret agent, Gary "Eggsy" Unwin (Taron Egerton), into a secret spy organisation. Eggsy joins a mission to tackle a global threat from Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a wealthy megalomaniac. The film also stars Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Michael Caine.
Kingsman: The Secret Service premiered at the annual film marathon Butt-Numb-A-Thon on 13 December 2014, and was theatrically released in the United Kingdom on 29 January 2015. The film received positive reviews, and has grossed over $414 million worldwide, becoming Vaughn's most commercially successful film to date. A sequel, titled The Golden Circle, is scheduled for a 16 June 2017 release.
During a raid in the Middle East in 1997, a probationary secret agent sacrifices himself to save his team. Blaming himself, Harry Hart, code-named "Galahad", delivers a medal for valor to the agent's widow, Michelle Unwin, and her young son, Gary "Eggsy", saying that if they ever need help, they should call the phone number on the back of the medal.
Seventeen years later, Professor James Arnold is kidnapped by Internet billionaire and philanthropist Richmond Valentine. One of Hart's fellow agents, "Lancelot", attempts a rescue single-handed, but is killed by Gazelle, Valentine's henchwoman. Valentine secretly meets with various powerful individuals, some of whom go missing afterwards. He also announces a giveaway of SIM Smart cards, granting free cellular and Internet access forever to everyone.
In London, Eggsy is now an unemployed young adult living with his mother, infant half-sister, and abusive stepfather, Dean. Despite being highly intelligent and capable, he left training for the Royal Marines and lives the aimless life of a stereotypical chav. Arrested for stealing a car, Eggsy calls the number on the medal. Hart has him released and tells Eggsy about his father - he was an agent of Kingsman, an "independent international intelligence agency" founded in 1919 by wealthy British individuals who had lost their heirs in the First World War.
With Lancelot's death, the agency has a vacancy. As Hart's choice, Eggsy joins the other handpicked candidates, including a woman named Roxy, whom he befriends. Training is overseen by "Merlin", a senior Kingsman. Eventually, only Eggsy and Roxy pass the rigorous selection process. Eggsy fails the final test, and Roxy becomes the new Lancelot.
During this time, Merlin notes that Arnold is no longer missing. Hart tries to extract information from the professor, but a chip implanted in Arnold's head explodes, killing him. Hart is injured escaping from unknown assailants. The signal that triggered the blast is traced to Valentine's corporation. Hart poses as a billionaire and dines with Valentine to try to ascertain his plans. During the private dinner, Valentine hints that he knows Hart is a secret agent, but lets him leave unharmed in order to secretly track his movements and learn more about his organisation.
Hart links Valentine to an obscure hate group's church in Kentucky. It is a trap; Valentine uses his SIM cards to broadcast a tone that causes everyone in the church, including Hart, to become uncontrollably violent. A mass brawl erupts, and Hart emerges the sole survivor. Eggsy, Merlin and Arthur — Kingsman's leader — watch via video link. Afterward, Valentine shoots and kills Hart.
When Eggsy goes to see Arthur, he discovers that Arthur has a scar behind his ear, just like Valentine's other converts. Arthur slips poison into Eggsy's brandy, but Eggsy distracts Arthur and switches the glasses. Arthur explains Valentine's views before he realises this; humanity is akin to a virus, and global warming is the Earth's equivalent of a fever. Valentine intends to broadcast his "neurological wave" worldwide to cause a massive culling of the human race to rescue it from extinction. Only those whom Valentine deems worthy of living — his allies, who have protective microchips implanted in their heads, and the VIPs he kidnapped — will be spared.
Unsure whom to trust, Merlin decides that he, Roxy and Eggsy must stop Valentine on their own. Roxy rides a high-altitude balloon into the stratosphere to disrupt Valentine's impending broadcast by destroying one of his satellites, while Eggsy and Merlin infiltrate Valentine’s mountain bunker complex. Roxy downs the satellite, but Valentine gets a business contact to replace it, then activates the signal, causing worldwide violence.
Eggsy is recognised and engages in a running fight with Valentine's henchmen. Eventually, both he and Merlin are cornered separately, but at Eggsy's suggestion, Merlin hacks into Valentine's system and causes the implants to explode, killing every villain except Valentine and Gazelle. Eggsy fights and kills Gazelle, then spears Valentine with Gazelle's prosthetic leg, ending the worldwide carnage.
Eggsy becomes a Kingsman agent. He offers his mother a new home away from Dean. When Dean objects, Eggsy waylays him in exactly the same manner that Hart dealt with one of Dean's henchmen earlier.
- Taron Egerton as Gary "Eggsy" Unwin, Galahad's Kingsman candidate. Alex Nikolov portrays a young Eggsy.
- Colin Firth as Harry Hart / Galahad, Eggsy's mentor and a Kingsman agent
- Samuel L. Jackson as Richmond Valentine, a billionaire who speaks with a lisp and has a weak stomach for blood and violence
- Mark Strong as Merlin, tech support, armourer, and occasional field agent for Kingsman
- Michael Caine as Chester King / Arthur, the leader of Kingsman
- Sophie Cookson as Roxanne "Roxy" Morton, a Kingsman candidate, later became the new "Lancelot"
- Sofia Boutella as Gazelle, Valentine's henchwoman who has bladed prosthetic legs
- Samantha Womack as Michelle Unwin, Eggsy's mother
- Geoff Bell as Dean, Eggsy's abusive stepfather
- Edward Holcroft as Charlie Hesketh, Arthur's Kingsman candidate
- Mark Hamill as James Arnold, an academic professor from Imperial College London and an expert in climate change
- Jack Davenport as Lancelot, a Kingsman agent on the mission that cost the life of Eggsy's father
- Velibor Topic as Biggest goon
- Tom Prior as Hugo, a Kingsman candidate
- Jack Cutmore-Scott as Rufus Saville, a Kingsman candidate
- Lily Travers as Lady Sophie
- Richard Brake as The Interrogator, a participant in one of the tests
- Hanna Alström as Princess Tilde, one of Valentine's kidnap victims
- Andrei Lenart as a Arctic Guard
- Corey Johnson as Church Leader
Jonno Davies played Lee Unwin, Eggsy's father and a former Kingsman candidate who sacrificed himself to save Hart, and Bjørn Floberg plays the Swedish Prime Minister. Nicholas Banks, Nicholas Agnew, Rowan Polonski and Tom Prior portrayed, respectively, Digby Barker, Nathaniel, Piers and Hugo Higins, the other four Kingsman candidates. Fiona Hampton played Amelia, a Kingsman employee who masquerades as a candidate in order to "die" during the first test.
The project originated when Mark Millar and Vaughn were at a bar discussing spy movies, lamenting that the genre had become too serious over the years and deciding to do "a fun one." To have the time to make the film, Vaughn had to opt out of directing X-Men: Days of Future Past, which he called "a really tough decision". He reasoned that if he did not do it, "somebody else ... [would] wake up and do a fun spy movie. Then I would have written a bloody screenplay that no one would want to make." Colin Firth joined the cast to lead the film on 29 April 2013. It was initially reported in 2013 that Leonardo DiCaprio was in talks to play a villain, although Vaughn himself later denied that he was ever considered stating that he came as close to playing the role "as I am to becoming the Pope." In September 2013, Vaughn cast Sophie Cookson for the female lead, preferring a newcomer over more obvious candidates like Emma Watson and Bella Heathcote. Mark Hamill was cast in a cameo role as Professor James Arnold, a reference to his character in the source comic book being named "Mark Hamill".
Principal photography began 6 October 2013 in Deepcut, Surrey, on a budget reported to be one-third of the $200 million budget of Skyfall. The Alexandra Road Estate in Camden was used for Eggsy's home area, and some scenes were filmed at Imperial College London. The Black Prince Pub in Kennington, South London, was used for various fight scenes and the car chase. Savile Row in Mayfair was also employed as a location and the exterior of tailors Huntsman, which provided the clothes and James Lock & Co. in St James's which provided the hats. While rumours of several celebrity cameo parts were published, including Adele, Elton John, Lady Gaga, and David Beckham, none of these rumours proved to be true.
In May 2014, it was reported that Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson would be composing the music for the film, while in July it was announced that Gary Barlow would be writing the music for the film. Additionally, a song from Take That's seventh studio album III, "Get Ready for It", played during the end credits.
The film's premiere was held in London on 14 January 2015, with director Vaughn and stars Firth, Egerton, and Strong attending, and Take That performing the film's theme live. A regional premiere was held in Glasgow at exactly the same time as the London event, and live footage was streamed from the premiere to Glasgow. Mark Millar also hosted a charity screening of the film ahead of its release in Glasgow to raise money for his old school, St. Bartholomews. The film opened in the United Kingdom on 29 January 2015. In the United States 20th Century Fox planned to release the film on 14 November 2014, but later delayed it to 6 March 2015. It was later moved up to 24 October 2014, before being delayed again to 13 February 2015. The film was released in most of Latin America and Indonesia, with the action scene set in the church removed. The scene, considered vital by the director and film critics, was excised almost completely, leaving only the set-up and immediate consequences.
The trade paperback collecting the comics miniseries was released on 14 January 2015. Vaughn teamed up with luxury retailer Mr Porter to create a 60-piece clothing line based on the film. Mr Porter worked with the film's costume designer, Arianne Phillips, to design the bespoke suiting, while everything from the ties and shirts to eyewear, umbrellas, shoes and watches were designed by heritage brands such as Cutler and Gross, George Cleverley, Mackintosh and Bremont. The collaboration is the first of its kind, making Kingsman: The Secret Service the first film from which customers can buy all of the outfits they see. The film also includes significant product placement for Adidas Originals.
Kingsman: The Secret Service earned a gross of $412.4 million, against a budget of $81-$94 million. $24.2 million of the takings were generated from the UK market and $128.3 million from North America. Kingsman opened on 30 January 2015 in Sweden, UK, Ireland and Malta. In the UK the film opened with $6.5 million and debuted at second place (behind Big Hero 6). The following weekend it opened in two additional countries: Australia and New Zealand. It debuted atop the box office in both countries and had a successful opening in Australia with $3.6 million. In its third weekend, it earned $23 million from 4,844 screens in 39 countries. It topped the box office in three countries; Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand, the rest of which were dominated by Fifty Shades of Grey. In its fourth weekend, it expanded to a total of 54 countries and grossed $33.4 million from 5,940 screens. Its biggest opener outside of North America was in China where it earned $27.9 million. Other high openings occurred in South Korea ($5.3 million) Russia and the CIS ($3.6 million), Taiwan ($3.4 million), and France ($3.3 million). For the United States opening weekend of 13 February, the film was predicted to debut with $28 million. The film opened in 3,204 cinemas behind Fifty Shades of Grey, grossing $10.4 million on its opening day, $15.4 million on its second day, and $10.4 million on its third day, for a weekend gross of $36.2 million with an $11,300 per-cinema average. During the four-day Presidents Day weekend it grossed $41.8 million.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes sampled 218 critics and judged 74% of the reviews positive, with an average rating of 7.4/10, calling the film "Stylish, subversive, and above all fun". On Metacritic, the film has a critics' score of 58 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating mixed reviews. The Movie Review Query Engine (MRQE) rates the film at 63 out of 100, based on 108 film critic reviews. According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said of the film, "This slam-bang action movie about British secret agents is deliriously shaken, not stirred ... Even when it stops making sense, Kingsman is unstoppable fun". Jordan Hoffman, writing for The Guardian, said of the film, "The spirit of 007 is all over this movie, but Vaughn's script ... has a licence to poke fun. ... no one involved in the production can believe they're getting away with making such a batshit Bond." Comparing the film to those of Christopher Nolan, Hoffman said, "Despite the presence of grandfatherly Michael Caine, Kingsman's tone is about as far from the Christopher Nolan-style superhero film as you can get. Verisimilitude is frequently traded in for a rich laugh".
Anthony Lane of The New Yorker stated, "Few recent movies have fetched quite as far as "Kingsman", and countless viewers will relish the brazen zest of its invention." However, Lane was critical of the film's use of stereotypes. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times enjoyed the film, but criticised Vaughn's use of violence as a cinematic tool, calling it "narrative overkill". Jason Ward of The Guardian wrote that "[e]verything about Kingsman exists to disguise the fact that it is solidly conservative". His examples include "[t]he depiction of Valentine's plan as a throwback to a less serious era of spy movies [which] is revealed as a feint, with the ulterior motive of undermining environmentalists". Likewise, The A.V. Club's Ignatiy Vishnevetsky commented that, "Far from being a Team America-style send-up of gentleman spy movies, Kingsman is actually even more reactionary than the movies it's referencing; it traffics in the kind of Tory values Bond flicks merely suggest [...] the thing is, the movie is fun, at least from a visual design standpoint, even though it’s hard to separate its bespoke fashions, future-vintage gadgets, and aristocratic décor from its fusty worldview". Peter Sobczynski of rogerebert.com, who gave the film two out of four stars, likened Vaughn's script to the spy film equivalent of Scream and also criticised the overuse of graphic violence, despite its cartoonish rendering. Vaughn has faced some criticism for an anal sex gag at the end of the film that was a reference to the James Bond films. Others have also criticised the ultra-violence, being a comedy, particularly the church massacre scene.
Millar and Vaughn have stated that a sequel was possible if the film performs well at the box office, and Vaughn has expressed interest in directing the sequel. Vaughn also noted that he hopes to have Firth back in the sequel, and Strong is interested in returning as well. It has been confirmed that Taron Egerton is contracted for the sequel. When asked how they will incorporate Firth’s character into the sequel, Millar stated that various ideas have been discussed, including giving Harry Hart an evil brother, or perhaps turning the character into a ghost. Fox announced a sequel is in the works, but it was unclear if Vaughn would return to direct. On 11 June 2015, it was confirmed Vaughn had begun writing the sequel, and he may return to direct it. Principal photography is set to begin in April 2016, with a 16 June 2017 release date. Julianne Moore is in talks to star as the new villain, and Halle Berry may sign on as the Head of the CIA. On 18 March 2016, Edward Holcroft was also confirmed to reprise his role as Charles "Charlie" Hesketh. Vaughn later revealed the sequel's title to be Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The plot follows Eggsy and Merlin joining forces with "Statesman", their American counterpart after Kingsman was destroyed by the film's villain Poppy, played by Moore. On 7 April 2016, Egerton revealed the first poster for the film, which strongly hinted that Firth would return for the film; the poster features Harry Hart's trademark pair of glasses with one of the eyes missing below the tagline (a borrowed quote from Mark Twain) stating "reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." Sophie Cookson will also reprise her role as Roxy Morton in the sequel. The next day, Deadline reported that Pedro Pascal was in talks for the role of Jack Daniels. On 12 April 2016, Elton John was in talks about joining the cast of the upcoming sequel. The next day, Channing Tatum announced on his Twitter account that he was joining the cast.
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