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 2014 action spy comedy film directed and produced by Matthew Vaughn. The screenplay, written by Vaughn and Jane Goldman, is based on Dave Gibbons's and Mark Millar's comic book series The Secret Service. The film follows the recruitment and training of Gary "Eggsy" Unwin (Taron Egerton), into a secret spy organization. Eggsy joins a mission to tackle a global threat from Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a wealthy megalomaniac. Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Michael Caine play supporting roles.
Kingsman: The Secret Service premiered at the Butt-Numb-A-Thon festival on 13 December 2014, and was theatrically released in the United Kingdom on 29 January 2015 and United States on 13 February 2015. The film received generally positive reviews from critics who highly praised the stylized action sequences, the acting performances, villain, score, and its dark humor, though some violent and sexual scenes were critiqued as over-the-top. The film grossed over $414 million worldwide, becoming Vaughn's most commercially successful film to date. In 2015, it won the Empire Award for Best British Film.
A sequel, titled Kingsman: The Golden Circle, was released in September 2017, with Vaughn and the main cast returning. A prequel, The King's Man, is currently scheduled to be released on 14 February 2020.
During a mission in the Middle East in 1997, probationary secret agent Lee Unwin sacrifices himself to protect his superior, Harry Hart. Hart, blaming himself, returns to London to give Lee's widow, Michelle, and her young son Gary "Eggsy" a medal engraved with an emergency assistance number.
Seventeen years later, Eggsy, having dropped out of training for the Royal Marines despite his intelligence and capability of both gymnastics and parkour, has become a stereotypical chav. After being arrested for stealing a car, Eggsy calls the number. Hart arranges his release. Hart explains that he is a member of Kingsman, a private intelligence service founded by the tailors of wealthy British individuals who gave said tailors their vast fortunes after losing their heirs in World War I. Hart, code name "Galahad", explains there is a position available, as agent "Lancelot" was killed by the assassin Gazelle while trying to rescue Professor James Arnold from kidnappers. Eggsy becomes Hart's candidate. Other candidates are eliminated through dangerous training tests run by operative "Merlin", until only Eggsy and Roxy, a candidate he befriended, are left. Eggsy refuses to complete the final test – shooting a Pug puppy he has raised during the training process (unaware that the gun holds blanks) – and Roxy is named the new "Lancelot".
Meanwhile, Merlin discovers that Professor Arnold has returned to work as if nothing had happened. Hart attempts to interrogate him, but a chip in Professor Arnold's neck explodes, killing him. The detonation signal is traced to a facility owned by Internet billionaire and philanthropist Richmond Valentine, who has recently offered everyone in the world SIM cards that grant free lifetime cellular and Internet connectivity. Hart, impersonating a billionaire philanthropist, meets Valentine face-to-face. Hart learns of Valentine's connection to an obscure hate group's church in Kentucky, and travels there, wearing glasses containing a video transceiver. As Eggsy watches, Valentine activates the SIM cards in the church, triggering a signal that causes the parishioners to become murderously violent. Hart's spy training leaves him as the only survivor. Outside the church Valentine explains what happened, and then shoots Hart in the face.
Eggsy returns to Kingsman headquarters and finds that Chester "Arthur" King, Kingsman's leader, has a scar on his neck just like Professor Arnold's. King reveals that Valentine plans to transmit his "neurological wave" worldwide via satellite network, believing the resulting "culling" of the human race will avert its extinction. Only those Valentine has chosen, willing and unwilling, will be unaffected. King tries to poison Eggsy, but Eggsy switches glasses and King poisons himself.
Eggsy, Merlin, and Roxy set out to stop Valentine. Roxy uses high-altitude balloons to destroy one of Valentine's satellites and break up the network, but Valentine quickly secures a replacement from a business associate. Merlin flies Eggsy to Valentine's base, where he masquerades as King. Eggsy is discovered by a failed Kingsman recruit, Charlie Hesketh, leading to both Eggsy and Merlin being cornered. On Eggsy's suggestion, Merlin activates the implanted chips' failsafe, killing almost everyone with a chip. An angry Valentine activates the signal and triggers worldwide pandemonium. Eggsy kills Gazelle and uses one of her sharpened prosthetic legs to impale Valentine and kill him, stopping the signal and ending the threat.
Ultimately, Eggsy, having become the new agent "Galahad", offers his mother and half-sister a new home away from his abusive stepfather Dean, who flatly objects to Eggsy's suggestion. Eggsy then dispatches him in exactly the same manner that Hart dealt with one of Dean's henchmen earlier.
- Taron Egerton as Gary "Eggsy" Unwin
- Colin Firth as Harry Hart / Galahad
- Samuel L. Jackson as Richmond Valentine
- Mark Strong as Merlin
- Michael Caine as Chester King / Arthur
- Sophie Cookson as Roxanne "Roxy" Morton / Lancelot
- Sofia Boutella as Gazelle
- Samantha Womack as Michelle Unwin
- Geoff Bell as Dean Baker
- Edward Holcroft as Charles "Charlie" Hesketh
- Mark Hamill as Professor James Arnold
- Jack Davenport as James Spencer / Lancelot
Hanna Alström and Bjørn Floberg appear as Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden, and Swedish Prime Minister Morten Lindström, respectively. Jack Cutmore-Scott portrays Rufus Saville, and Lily Travers portrays Lady Sophie. Jonno Davies played Lee Unwin, Eggsy's father and a former Kingsman candidate who sacrificed himself to save Hart. 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. Richard Brake played the interrogator during the penultimate test, Ralph Ineson the police interviewer after Eggsy's arrest, whereas Corey Johnson starred as a fanatic church leader, and Velibor Topić portrayed the biggest goon in the bar fight scene. Tobias Bakare and Theo Barklem-Biggs play Eggsy's friends Jamal and Ryan.
The project originated when Mark Millar and Matthew 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." Instead the role of the villain went to Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson took the role in part because of a career-long dream to be in a James Bond movie. As he felt that this was unlikely to come true, he took on the role, stating "I felt like this was an opportunity to play a really great Bond villain." Jackson's character has a notable lisp, which was partially inspired by the stutter he had during his childhood. 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 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 at No. 12, 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 grossed $414.4 million worldwide; $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).
In the United States and Canada, the film opened on 13 February and was predicted to debut to around $28 million. The film opened in 3,204 cinemas and grossed $10.4 million on its first day, $15.4 million on its second day and $10.4 million on its third day, for a weekend gross of $36.2 million (an $11,300 per-cinema average), finishing second at the box office behind Fifty Shades of Grey. During the four-day Presidents Day weekend it grossed $41.8 million.
The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes sampled 248 critics and judged 74% of the reviews as positive, with an average rating of 6.8/10, calling the film "Stylish, subversive, and above all fun". On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 60 out of 100, based on 50 critics, indicating "mixed or average 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". Peter Bradshaw, writing for The Guardian, called the film "a smirking spy spoof, weirdly charmless and dated in unintentional ways", commenting that "it is a film forever demanding to be congratulated on how "stylish" it is."
Some reviewers were critical of the film's depiction of violence, which was considered to be too graphic for a comedy. 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 iits 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.
Kingsman has a rather ambivalent take on the notion of class, as Wieland Schwanebeck has argued in his discussion of the modern right-wing Blockbuster: "While the film initially suggests that class status is neither a God-given fact nor the direct result of personal inadequacy but can result from a downward spiral (in the case of Eggsy’s mother: being left alone by the state after her husband has given his life for it), the film’s take on the ‘feral underclass’ remains ambiguous." While Valentine’s ‘neurological wave’ affects everyone on the planet apart from the wealthy elite, the film implies "that the lower classes are much easier to target and to instrumentalize. Crucially, the neurological wave is triggered via rigged SIM cards, which invokes the mobile phone as the rather stereotypical status symbol of choice for the ‘non-working’ working class". When the wave is triggered, the film revels in grotesque images of mass violence that involve the stereotype of "the violent chav whose vitriolic hatred, once unleashed, is a danger to everyone." While the film exaggerates the motif for comic effect, it alludes to the wide-spread view that "the lower orders spen[d] their time rolling around in a drunken stupor” and that “entire communities around Britain [are] crawling with feckless, delinquent, violent and sexually debauched no-hopers”.
Millar and Vaughn stated that a sequel was possible if the film performs well at the box office, and Vaughn expressed interest in directing the sequel. Vaughn also noted that he hoped to have Firth back in the sequel, and that Strong was interested in returning as well. It was confirmed that Taron Egerton was contracted for the sequel. When asked how they would 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 was 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 that he might return to direct it. Principal photography was set to begin in April 2016, with a 6 October 2017 release date. It was reported that Julianne Moore was in talks to star as the new villain, and Halle Berry might 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 lenses 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. John would not be playing a character, but having screen time as himself.  The next day, Channing Tatum announced on his Twitter account that he was joining the cast. Tatum taking the role as Agent Tequila. 
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