Decided on a whim to go take advantage of Marcus Crosswoods' $5 student Thursdays (combine that price with free popcorn and their signature dream-lounge seats and why, oh why would you go anywhere else?) and go see this movie and it just so happened to be the first showing on opening night. Kind of a treat because the place wasn't crowded and I reserved my seat online for free: towards the center near the back row, just where I like it. Yeah, I went to see it alone since I didn't really know anybody that was both A) free at the moment and B) willing to watch a movie with me. But it's alright because I decided that it's only shameful if you're ashamed of it. Being alone and being lonely are two different things. Tonight, I decided I was the former rather than the latter.
What I liked:
- Super stylish fight scenes. I couldn't get enough. Having seen director Matthew Vaughn's other movies, I kind of knew what I was in for and Kingsman delivered in spades.
- Casual, lighthearted, and flamboyant rather than tense, serious, and gritty. Refreshing for a spy movie.
- The Britishness! I wouldn't say that I'm obsessed with British accents and mannerisms but in this case it was endearing.
- The characters. Eggsy, Roxy, Arthur, Harry, Merlin. Loved em. And Samuel L. Jackson's character was hilarious. I particularly love the particular idiosyncrasies of the character; the contrast of his violent methods and his aversion to the slightest amount of gore, his over-the-top lisp, his informal attire and brash nature in the midst of the well-mannered Kingsman. Look, I'm not saying it was the most well-written character ever or that Jackson deserves some kind of award for his acting but, by golly, was he entertaining. It's not all the often that you actually like the villain (different from liking the villain because you hate him à la the Joker).
- The male lead and the female lead don't get together! Kingsman is certainly not bereft of cliches but I was delightfully surprised to see that this was not one of them. Why can't the hero and heroine ever just be friends? Why must the affection between the cute guy and the pretty girl have to be of eros rather than of phileo? Can't a guy show kindness to a girl without trying to "get with her"? I've got nothing against two people falling in love. I've enjoyed my fair share of love stories and rom-coms, but the non-romantic friendship between Roxy and Eggsy is truly a breath of fresh air. Even if they get together in Kingsman 2, I appreciate that, at least for the first movie, the writers didn't try to cram in a "RoxyxEggsy" love story side plot.
- The death of Galahad, while sad, was well-executed (pun intended).
- Techni-color head fireworks. Obama at the end was a nice touch.
What I was okay with:
- The typical action-comedy movie cliches. Normally cliches will bother me and tarnish a movie for me. They are often the result of lazy writing. However, Kingsman is so stylish and charming that that it's hard to care. The tone is casual enough and the movie is self-aware enough that it's hard to really fault Kingsman for the flaws it doesn't try to hide. It wears the overused tropes with such boyish allure that it almost breathes new life into them and pulls them off with grace and panache. It's like wearing an ugly Christmas sweater to an ugly Christmas sweater party. Just have fun and don't take yourself too seriously. (questionable analogy)
What I didn't like:
- Just nit-picky things. Eggsy punched through reinforced glass while underwater? Eggsy and Roxy barely had time to get the parachute off and you're telling me they managed to aim themselves to land inside the tiny circle? Didn't they show that "sword-legs-lady" had the chip in her neck? And yet she didn't blow up at the end like the rest of the people who had the implants.
- The plot was pretty conventional. Boy's father was a hero but dies when his son is still really young. Boy grows up never knowing his dad, shows excellent potential, but gets into trouble due to lack of guidance. Mentor who knew the dad meets the boy and connects him with his dad's past. Boy goes through training where he encounters bullies who look down on him but he also gains a friend or two, Boy defies odds and lives up to his father's name. Mentor gets into trouble or dies. Boy rescues or avenges him and saves the world. Very Harry Potter. Lots of these individual plot points happen in other movies and books as well.
- The "shoot the dog" scene. Afterwards, while rebuking Eggsy, Harry (Galahad) says that Kingsman never kill unless necessary... So Eggsy was actually following Kingsman values by not killing his dog. Yes, I get that it's about obedience and following orders but the "kill the innocent person to prove your loyalty" and "the gun wasn't really loaded it was a test" tropes are both pretty overused.
I thought maybe that this would lead to a climax in which Valentine uses a concentrated "rage beam" on Eggsy to force him to kill Roxy. However, Eggsy's instinctive and deep-rooted compassion and aversion to killing innocents, both animal and human, would allow him to resist. This would have made the dog scene a lot more sensible as well as tying in the part in the beginning where Eggsy chooses to get caught by the police rather than run over the stray. Additionally, it would have made the ending a bit more climactic, Roxy would have been given a more significant role (they kind of awkwardly cut her out at the end), and they wouldn't have had to rely on the random scene with Eggsy's mom and baby sister to stir up tension. Furthermore, it would have introduced a pretty strong theme and set Eggsy apart as a Kingsman. He would be the only Kingsman ever that chose not to kill his dog and those traits of compassion and the desire not to harm innocents would manifest themselves into something meaningful. Finally, it would be fitting for his code name since Galahad was know as Galahad the Pure.
- Charlie coming back in the movie and recognizing Eggsy at Valentine's doomsday party. It doesn't make one bit of sense that the Kingsman would just let Charlie or any of the other failed students go without wiping their memory or something. They are supposed to be a super-secret organization and Charlie even expressly demonstrated that he was willing to give up Kingsman secrets. What's to stop them from selling that info to enemies or even directly working against the Kingsman in the future? HUGE plot hole.
- I felt that Eggsy was a little too smug there at the end. Like every time he would do something cool he would stop and grin at himself.