When you think of spy films, you think of signature films and franchises like James Bond, Salt, Jason Bourne and Mission Impossible.
Over the years, these action films have evolved with story and technology, bringing the viewer to the height of suspense and jaw-dropping stunts one after the other. In some terms, the genre is also overused or sometimes feels like there's nothing new under the sun. Kingsman came onto the scene in 2014, and from the respects of this genre, it was very unconventional.
Summarizing in one sentence, the film mixed a beautiful story with rich character development and themes but also used comedic insanity and silliness as the vehicle to drive the serious and important themes home.
Most spy films will take huge, unbelievable stunts and pull them off in a way that seems believable in the real world. But in this film, they throw that strategy out of the window. In one scene, there's a montage of characters' heads exploding in vibrant, bright fireworks.
This sort of spoof of a spy film does, however, manage to form very real characters with real relationships that make the viewers keep watching and accomplish the narrative in a unique way. Using a large array of pop culture references also helps accelerate these metaphorical details. The cast was also exceptional, in particular the villain.
Every great spy or action film relies on its success most of the time by having an incredible villain. In both the first and second Kingsman films, they have fantastic villains.
We start with Samuel L. Jackson's portrayal of an eccentric villain in the first film. He went above and beyond; there's something about this particular energetic and open-faced psychopath of a character that is very intriguing to watch and be entertained by.
In the second film, following a similar type of nutty character, Julianne Moore does a great job keeping the narrative going up and down like a rollercoaster. I think sometimes films and franchises can go a bit too far with the seriousness of some of the obvious out-of-this-world stunts and could use a bit more silliness or parody.
Like Fast and Furious, really driving a car through 3 buildings?? And being completely serious about it. That's where I think the Kingsman films really take the cake because they balance very serious tones of the narrative and characters with fun and parody accents. And that can be a difficult line to thread.
I didn't mention the 3rd film they made, which was a prequel of sorts, in this article because I did not enjoy it, and I feel it does not fit with the other two whatsoever. It didn't capture the same tones or aura that made the first two so great.