Considerations On The World, Mission And Methods Of The Kingsmen

(with, obviously, spoilers emplaced for those of you unlucky enough not to yet have seen the marvellous Kingsman: The Secret Service).

 

 

  1. I worry, just a little, about the whole concept of the organisation known as the Kingsmen. Consider: they are independently funded and run without any sort of government oversight. With no need for contract work or any kind of secondary financial support, the Kingsmen are free to do what they like, regardless of the needs or restraints of national security. In fact, they believe such constraints to be a crutch to their work. They are a group of highly trained and heavily armed free agents with absolutley no accountability. Imagine if such an organisation could be penetrated and compromised. They claim to be a force for good, but that could very quickly be changed. The leadership structure of the Kingsmen, at least as far as I can tell, is do what Michael Caine tells you. Which, granted, is a reasonable way to do things, but in context a little more in the way of pushback would be prudent.
  2. Why are there so few of these Kingsmen, especially when you take the size of their base and sheer outrageous wealth of their resources into consideration? The organisation clearly has the gelt to fund an army, and yet they choose to concentrate on ten men, sent out like knight errants with, it seems to me at least, little in the way of support. They're clearly successful at what they do, but then, let's refer back to my first point. The Kingsmen are free to do what they like. It seems to me that they'll pick and choose their assignments. No embeds in the Congo or Helmand for these chaps, I think. Only the glamorous missions where they get to wear the bespoke suits. To put it another way: The Kingsmen will only choose the missions where they are most assured of success. It's like private companies taking over bits of the NHS and only choosing to treat the patients that they could cure successfully and at the best profit point.

    Not that that would ever happen, of course.

  3. The Kingsmen are, clearly, a bunch of raving upper-class snobs, but the key point to note is again, the whole notion of the organisation not needing to worry about money. They are, effectively, a throwback to the era of the Victorian gentleman adventurer, who would cheerfully swan off to darkest Africa on a whim, without a care to mortgage, loans or financial responsibility. There's an argument going on about how the arts are increasingly becoming the playground of the rich—it's easier to make it as a musician if you never have to worry about rent money or where the next meal is coming from. Kingmen keys into that notion, and has a great deal of fun with it without becoming overly preachy.

  4. Although it's Eggsy's film, particularly in the final third, there's a few interesting nods towards the portrayal of women and the disabled in Jane Goodman's script. It would have been a different but no less interesting movie if Grace had been placed into the fray instead of the outsider from the council estate. After all, she's actually the one with the official status of Kingsman (Kingsperson?). She's not only sidelined, she's actively sent on a mission that highlights her weak points as a warrior. I was expecting her to roar in all guns blazing to save Eggsy at the act 3 turnaround: not letting that happen was a missed opportunity, I think.

  5. Gazelle is a different prospect, though. The Girl On Blades is a surprisingly positive portrayal of disability. Yes, she's a villain. Yes, she's (on the surface, at least) a servant. But she's also terrifyingly efficient and brutally effective as bodyguard, factotum and assassin. Her disability is never mentioned, apart from one sly moment where she's seen with one leg off, sharpening her heel. Otherwise, she's very much the equal of everyone else in the film. You could argue that para-athletes don't actually spend all their time in their running blades, and that they actually have different legs for different situations. A shame that wasn't explored a little more, perhaps, but in general it's good to see someone with a disability portrayed so glamourously, and very much as an equal—even if she is a threat rather than a hero.

  6. Kingsman has innumerable sly nods to the world of fictional spydom, from the John Barry-esque music to the Harry Palmer-style glasses that everyone wears as heads-up displays cum communicators. It comes over as part celebration, part satire, part meta-commentary on the nature of the super-spy movie. This does, however, mean that any claims that it's a new type of spy film fail at the first post. No matter how much both Harry Hart and Sam Jackson claim “this isn't that sort of movie”, it really is. It's still about the unkillable guy in the tux who has sex with the lovely blonde as a sort of punchline. The Q-analogue gets more of an eyeful than he planned, and credits roll. “I think he's coming in for re-entry”. Kingsman is ultimately too beholden to the source material to be a genuinely new type of spy film, but by cranking all the references up to 11 it's at least a fun watch, which is more than you can say for the miserable, revisionist Skyfall. I wonder what the Bond camp thinks of it all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Published by

Rob

Writer. Film-maker. Cartoonist. Cook. Lover.

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