Rated R. Running time: 2 hours 9 min.
Our content ratings (1-10): Violence 9; Language 6; Sex/Nudity 8.
Our star rating (1-5): 3.5
Reviewed by Markus Watson
Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
1 John 1:8
Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton), a twenty-something flunky who is recruited by a secret British spy agency known as the Kingsmen. In reality, Eggsy was born to be a secret agent since he is the son of a Kingsman agent who died in the line of service when Eggsy was a toddler. Now, in his twenties, Eggsy is recruited to be an agent by Harry Hart (Colin Firth), who goes by the code name Galahad. After enduring an intense period of training, Eggsy finally emerges as a Kingsman.
Meanwhile, the villain—lisping tech billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson)—is secretly planning to kill off a large portion of the world’s population by means of a wireless signal in peoples cell phones that will cause them to go berserk and kill each other. In the end, Valentine nearly succeeds, but is, of course, stopped by secret agent Eggsy.
It sounds like a typical spy movie, doesn’t it? Not quite. The film, which is based on a comic book of the same name, is designed to poke fun at the whole spy genre. In one scene, Valentine is pointing a gun at Hart and says something about this being the part where, in a good spy movie, he (the villain) explains his evil plan and the hero makes an amazing escape. Then he says, “It’s not that kind of a movie,” and he shoots Hart in the head.
While shockingly violent, it’s all supposed to be fun silliness—the way Valentine’s bodyguard, for instance, the beautiful Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) uses her prosthetic legs/blades as weapons to slice and dice whoever gets in Valentine’s way; or the way people’s heads blow up in explosions of blue, purple, and green all set to music.
And while the closing scene before the end credits seems rather out of place—where Eggsy has anal sex with a princess in proper British spy fashion—the movie as a whole is enjoyable.
Kingsman: The Secret Service, raises a couple of theological issues worth considering. Eggsy, prior to being recruited into the Kingsmen, was living what some would call a worthless life. No job. Lazy. A delinquent. Then he received a call from a higher authority and he had to make a decision to follow that call or not.
God’s desire is for people to live lives of human flourishing. We were not made to live lives of insignificance. Rather, each of us has been made with a purpose with gifts and abilities that God calls us to use for the good of humanity and creation. We have each been called by a higher authority to make a difference in the world.
The film also touches on the issue of sin. While Valentine’s strategy is to force people to kill each other by means of his “berserker” signal, his plan is based on the idea that human beings have an inner tendency toward violence. All Valentine does is remove the inhibitor in our brains that keeps us from violence. But the tendency, says the film, is there for all of us.
This review with a set of discussion questions will be in the May 2015 issue of Visual Parables.