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Movie Review

Kingsman: The Secret Service

MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content.

Reviewed by: Jake Roberson
CONTRIBUTOR

Extremely Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults
Genre:
Action Adventure Spy Thriller Comedy Adaptation
Length:
2 hr. 9 min.
Year of Release:
2015
USA Release:
February 13, 2015 (wide—3,100+ theaters)
DVD: June 9, 2015
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

spies in the Bible

culture clash

FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

brainwashing / mind control

sociopaths

assassins / murder

terrorists, terrorism

revenge

corrupt politicians

issue of global warming and climate change

teacher/mentor student relationship

teamwork important to success

self sacrifice

Featuring: Taron Egerton … Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin
Colin FirthHarry Hart / Galahad
Samuel L. JacksonRichmond Valentine
Mark StrongMerlin
Michael CaineArthur
Mark Hamill … Professor James Arnold
Sofia Boutella … Gazelle
Sophie Cookson … Roxy
Jack Davenport … Lancelot
Tom Prior … Hugo
more »
Director: Matthew Vaughn—“X-Men: First Class” (2011), “Kick-Ass” (2010), “Stardust” (2007)
Producer: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Marv Films
TSG Entertainment
Distributor: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton) is something of a prodigal genius. Not that he’d let on about his giftedness. Or admit to his prodigal… ness. He’s had a bum lot in life. His dad died when he was a preschooler, and he’s lived a lower class life with an abusive stepdad ever since. He’s tired of it, but he’s given up. So he coasts, acting out when pushed around by the wrong people. There’s still a spark in him, he just doesn’t see it anymore.

Harry Hart (Colin Firth) carries a burden. Not that you could tell based on his crisp suit and gentlemanly demeanor. He’s the sort that looks to have it all together. But his heart is heavy knowing that his mistake cost a man his life, and cost a young family their dad.

Known in the Kingsman—a super secret independent international intelligence agency—as Galahad, he believes that helping Eggsy is the right thing to do. Not just because he feels responsible for his father’s death, but also because he can see the last remaining spark in the young man and wants to fan it into flame.

Little does either of them know that they’ll need it to fan into an inferno if they’re to have any hope of stopping Valentine—an eccentric, lisping Earth-conscious, violence-averse, self-made Silicon Valley-esque billionaire (played by a brilliant Samuel L. Jackson)—from causing the people of the Earth to purge themselves in order to save the planet.

Language: The Kingsmen are very concerned with conducting themselves as perfect gentlemen… except when it comes to their language. 108 variations of the f-word plague the script, as do 34 uses of sh*t. God’s name is abused eight times, three of those being paired with d*mn.

Half a dozen uses of a** litter the rest of the proceedings along with a dozen or so British vulgarities like “bloody” and “wanker.” In one scene, during an angry rant/sermon, a pastor uses offensive terms to refer to Jewish people, black people, and homosexuals.

Sexual Content: A woman offers to have anal sex with a man if he can save the world. When he does, we briefly see her bare backside as they happily prepare to consummate their agreement. In quick scenes, a few women are seen in their bikinis on the beach. A joke is made about a threesome, and one man makes a reference to ejaculating in someone’s fast food order. Elsewhere, a quip about “winning someone over in the biblical sense” is made.

Violent Content: Violence is a key component of the Kingsmen’s world, and they practice their particular brand with a certain calculated, balletic brutality. The camera soaks all of their (and others) work with glee, as dozens (if not hundreds) of people’s bodies are bashed, bruised, snapped, shot, stabbed, impaled, crushed, sliced, exploded, and even immolated.

The most unsettling scene takes place inside some form of Baptist church in rural southern America (a hateful, pro-life, racist church that seems to something of a stand-in for Westboro Baptist). Played for laughs, we’re made to watch for several uncomfortable minutes as the congregation is driven into a bloodthirsty brawl by Valentine’s malevolent tech. All those different ways to break bodies and take lives that I mentioned in the previous paragraph? Those are all present at least once during the bloody scene. In just one scene.

Elsewhere in the film, a man threatens his stepson with a kitchen knife and a woman, not under her own control, tries to hack through a bathroom door to attack her toddler-aged daughter. People are routinely shot or stabbed in the head, and a few men lose limbs to bullets or sharp blades. One man’s body is sliced completely in half, and we watch as the pieces slide apart from each other. Another long scene features dozens of people’s heads—literally—exploding like fireworks.

Drug/Alcohol Content: Kingsmen are quite fond of their fine wines and whiskeys, and plenty of both are consumed casually over the course of the film. On a few occasions, drinks are spiked, with varying effects.

Themes

Galahad sees a lot of potential in Eggsy, just as he also saw it in Eggsy’s dad so many years ago… and he is determined to help the young man take hold of it, in spite of the class system that has separated “lesser” men like Eggsy from the Kingsman (and others) for so many years. “Nobility is not about being better than another man,” Galahad admonishes Eggsy, “true nobility is being better than one’s former self.”

This idea is the core of the Christian faith, but is also, sadly, something we too often lose sight of in our day-to-day. Our faith in and redemption through Christ doesn’t make us better than anybody else (Romans 10:11-13). Instead, true faith and redemption means we are saved from and better than our former selves through God’s grace (Philippians 3:13-14; Ephesians 2:8-9). It’s not about the berating or putting down of others due to the specks in their eyes; it’s about the beauty of God’s forgiveness that helps remove the logs from our own (Luke 6:41-42).

Curiously, the film’s treatment of violence brings up its own interesting set of problems. It’s obvious that Valentine’s plan to cause planet-wide genocide to save the Earth for a select few is wrong, much in the same way that HYDRA’s plan to do the same in Marvel’s “The Winter Soldier” was wrong. Even if he (and HYDRA) believes that taking these lives will, somehow, save more lives in the end. The end does not justify the means. We all tend to agree with that.

But, then again, usually only to a point. The Kingsmen themselves are not above taking lives to save lives, and they take quite a few lives, as they try to save the world. And, of course we agree with and cheer for them because they are taking out the bad guys. But, as far as Valentine is concerned, he also was trying to take out the bad guys. We cheer because we side with the film’s good guys, but it’s important to think about the reality of subjective justice and who gets to decide what is right and what is wrong, and who is “good” and who is “bad.”

Conclusion

Those looking for a sharp sendup of the spy genre are going to find exactly what they hoped for in “Kingsman.” The script is crisp, and the action is unique enough to stand on its own even as it occasionally parodies. It is homage with a winking wit and plenty of charm, and Samuel L. Jackson nails the role of an understated, but undeniably megalomaniacal villain.

Which makes the violence all the more unsettling, since we’re supposed to laugh and cheer as bodies hit the floor after being dispatched with bloody panache. In spite of a little bit of lip service via Valentine’s personal distaste for blood and death, there seems to be very little real interest in dealing with the heavy cost of violence.

Just as trying to tell people to be better with their finances while you teach them to gamble is counter-productive, so is trying to make a statement about the need for less bloodshed while asking people to laugh as dozens of people’s heads explode. Even if you’re trying to be tongue-in-cheek about it, the message is quickly lost.

Ultimately, “Kingsman” is the type of movie I really wanted to like. Artistically, it has all the gadgets it needs to be a great film in this genre. But, unfortunately, it also packs in several unnecessary pieces of gear that weigh it down and make the trip one not worth the cost—which is a shame. Especially when we know what could have been, since other movies have managed to accomplish the same objective with less baggage (see “Get Smart”).

Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Heavy

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I’m going to start off by saying that if people are looking for a good, wholesome, Christian film; they are looking in the wrong place. However, if you are looking for a good thrill, excellent directing, and something fun to do this weekend, you should definitely see this movie. The overly dramatic and ultra fast action scenes not only put a satisfied smile on my face, and also picked up the pace of the film after its slow moments.

I see countless people complaining about how bad the church scene was, and how they believe it is the director’s view of Christian America. This is far from the truth. The scene was obviously modeled after the over-the-top racist, homophobic, and vicious Westboro Baptist “church”. The director was just jabbing at the ribs of the Phelps family and their sad interpretation of God’s word. A bit of on-screen revenge I guess. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Joseph, age 19 (USA)
Positive—Fantastic film. Very conservative leaning, openly talking how one of the main spies saved Margaret Thatcher’s life, as well as many other themes. The main character goes through a lot of personal growth, finally owning the decisions that brought him to where was in life and making a change.

I feel like many of the other comments on this film believe that the director is taking aim at all Christians during the church scene. I see no evidence pointing towards that whatsoever. The church in the scene was similar to Westboro Baptist, full of hateful bigots. Not once was it implied that all Christians are like this or need to be killed. People are just filling in their own insecurities and projections into this movie, that everyone is out to get them.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Sam, age 24 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—I missed the first 15 minutes of this movie, because I came in late. Other than that, what I saw was enough to form an opinion. As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by a barrage of F-bombs. I guess that’s to be expected since the movie is rated R. While the movie certainly did earn its rating, it was also a good James Bond type of movie with a lot more action. That’s why I gave it a neutral rating.

As a Christian, I wasn’t supposed to like this movie, but I did (father forgive me for I have sinned). It was definitely a guy movie. Just had too much cursing in it for me. The gore was a plenty, as well. But if you’ve seen any of the “Kill Bill” movies, you’ve seen worse. I wouldn’t take the kids to see this one, but if you’re craving some good action, do go see. Or better yet, wait until you can get the DVD and watch it through your TV Guardian.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Frank, age 46 (USA)
Negative
Negative—I am so ashamed that I actually sat through the entire movie. It was vulgar, sexual, extremely bloody and violent. The f-word was used more times than I can count. I think they were trying to set a record. The violence was out of control. Shots of people heads exploding, people being impaled, stabbed and sliced in half.

What scared me was how many people were laughing at the violence. There was a scene where a female character agreed to anal sex, and they show her bare butt. I do not advise anyone to see this movie in any way, shape or form.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Robert, age 30 (USA)
Negative— Note: English isn’t my native language, so there might be typos/poor grammar, my apologies. —I’m surprised how many so-called Christians centralized their opinions mainly to complain about just “obvious”-stuff, such as swearing or violence. Although I don’t accept those, there was way bigger issues than that! The story told about a poor (yet right bloodline) boy who was taken over by a secret society elite because they wanted to turn him into a “superspy”. The movie depicted this in a cool and sexy way; he learned new skills and rose up the ranks. In reality, they were turning him into a killer by using totally inhumane and humiliating ways in order to “perfect” him.

This is exactly what goes on among occult circles in many ways. This movie introduced “Entered Apprentice”—the first degree and then our “lucky” chosen candidate ascended from a lower to a higher condition of knowledge by doing more and more rituals and tests. The evil handlers explained that “it’s okay if people die” and then an animal sacrifice was demanded. How lovely. This is basically preconditioning our youth to embrace Satanic concepts and the idea of “illumination”.

What about the mark of the beast?—Microchip and totalitarian control under anti-Christ’s reign. Agent declaimed “hail Satan,” talked about anti-Christ and then murdered all those Christians while the song called “Free Bird” was dreadfully played in the background. Extremely blatant example of blood sacrifice.

I could go on and on, but the basic theme was that our enemy wants to accomplish the exact same scenario that was depicted in this movie. He wants to kill Christians, control everyone, microchip the whole population and lure our youth into the occult! Then the enemy has the nerve to wrap this concept into a nice shiny package and serve it as “entertainment”—and gullible Christians follow the blind into movie theaters!

I was stupid enough to join, but thank God I saw throughout this garbage. Hosea 4:6—“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Saara, age 32 (Finland)
Negative—My wife and I went to this movie thinking it was going to be your average action/suspense movie. What we actually saw was a movie with very over-the-top violence. It was so extreme, it was almost treated like a joke. There was a fair amount of bad language, but nothing unusual for this type of movie. The sex/nudity was fairly tame, until the last couple minutes and seemed out of place and totally unnecessary. This could have been a good movie, but the extreme violence really hurt it.

The other aspect I really didn’t like is how they mixed Christianity with some extreme church that was racist and hateful. It was a major turn off.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Jason, age 41 (USA)
Negative—This movie uses the f-word over a hundred times, and intentionally shows Christians and Biblical passages (such as Noah and the Ark) as the evildoers and haters of the world. The most upsetting part of the movie was in an Evangelical church. The minister, and a member of the church, are shown screaming out hatefully towards homosexuals, black people, abortion, and others. Then, due to free cell phones that they were all given—which can control their minds, they all begin to massacre each other in an extremely long and painful scene. Only the spy remains alive, until he steps outside and is shot dead, in the head.

This movie also contains overtly sexual comments and a nude, and close up view of a woman’s bottom. I forgot to mention that there is also drinking, continuously, throughout the movie, and the killing (although killing is to be expected for this type of movie), is shown in the final scenes literally, as a firework display of brains being exploded. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—D, age 44 (USA)
Negative—DO NOT see this movie. Extremely disturbing in so many ways. Wish we hadn’t seen it. Especially and spiritually disturbed at how they hinted about spiritual things and painted God out to be some kind of lunatic hater. Bad definitely far outweighs the good, or anything remotely redeeming, in this movie. Yuck.

Bottom Line: My husband and I didn’t check this movie out as much as we should have before viewing. Lesson learned.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: none
—TJ, age 44 (USA)
Negative—The problem with this movie is that the directing is actually very good, and the film draws you in for the first 30 minutes or so. The violence is high from the beginning, which is to be expected in most films these days.

What really disturbed me was the “church” scene. I don’t think that the review above adequately identifies just how satanic this scene was and was clearly a blatant and unapologetic attack on the Christian faith… coupled with the violence in the church, the music played in the background—a song by Lynyrd Skynyrd called “Free Bird”—seems to imply that the killing of Christians brings freedom?!?! This is absolutely disgusting, in my opinion, and people should absolutely be up in arms about this film!!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Maz, age 30 (United Kingdom)
NegativeThe main message of the movie is clear. Christians are hate filled, anti-Semitic, racist-bigots who should be slaughtered in their churches. Which you get to watch in graphic detail during a featured scene of the move. What if they had featured a bunch of Muslims being slaughtered in an Islamic mosque instead? Probably wouldn’t have gone over so well with the media. But Christians? Hey that’s okay, cause you know, no one likes them anyway. And, coincidentally, Christian are being slaughter all over the world right now.

But the church as a whole has even less to say about that than it does about this pathetic waste of a film. When do we start boycotting this… and its advertisers? I wish I had seen this review before my wife and I spent our hard earned money to sit and be insulted by this garbage.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
—Alexander, age 40 (USA)
Negative—I went to see this with my wife and a friend. A large part of me was not happy throughout the film, sure some of the Bond style comedic violence in one or two scenes was funny, but, overall, this film was vile. It is easy to say that one should not like the nudity, which I agree with, but this film exposes a lot of stuff to our hearts and minds that frankly will affect our hearts as worshiping people. I am grieved to have seen it.

My concern above that is for our children and young people (and, by the sound of it, some adult believers) who will be taking this in and taking it as normal. It leaves me concerned for the standards in society, which really clearly are opening doors to lots of stuff that will again, affect hearts.

I have never used your site before, but will be sure to check it next time. Thank you.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2
—Sashi, age 39 (United Kingdom)
Negative—I wanted to enjoy a spy action movie. This movie was beyond violent; I am shocked and ashamed that I watched the whole thing. The really worst parts were toward the end. I could handle Denzel Washington in “The Equalizer,” even though it was quite violent—at least it was believable and somewhat restrained. Various people got impaled and killed in gory ways in that show. This movie was absolutely over the top disgustingly grotesque. The sexual crudity at the end was unnecessary and sinful. The church scene was the worst gorefest I have ever seen. As someone else mentioned, it was frightening and sad to hear people laughing at the exploding heads and vile sexuality.

My mind is now scarred. This movie is absolutely not for any Christian, period.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Charlene, age 45 (Canada)
Negative—The last scene with the princess happily turning over, showing a nude backside, was extremely offensive to me. Anal sex is a painful and degrading act. Suggesting otherwise to gullible teenagers is wrong. Girls of today have no self respect. I’m sorry I watched the movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Constance Crissman, age 55 (USA)
Negative—With all movies, I tell people to only see a movie if they sense the Lord leading them to see it—even “G” movies! Yes, I sensed the Lord leading me to watch this movie, but not for enjoyment purposes. I believe he led me to watch this as a reminder that we need to continually pray for Hollywood. This movie is well produced, but like so many other movies, I think one ulterior (demonic) motive tied to this movie is simply to desensitize people to violence.

The previews of this movie make this movie attractive, but they don’t give you a clue as to what the movie morphs into. I didn’t laugh at any of the gore. I was actually saddened that so much money and human resources could be wasted on the making of a movie like this. If the Lord is going to judge America someday, you can bet it will have something to do with how America has wasted the talent it has been given. This movie has little or no redemptive value. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Mike, age 47 (USA)
Negative—What do some Hollywood movies have in common with a whore? They both take your money, use you and abuse you, and then leave you hanging for more… I think this movie is one of those movies. 1 John 2:15—“Do not love the world or the things of the world…” Galatians 5:1—“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Michael, age 47 (USA)
Positive—Extremely offensive, especially the scene in the Church (and the last scene, off scene offer of sodomy)… how people can be so naive and give this movie a pass in the Christian realm is beyond me.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 2½
—Denis, age 42 (Canada)
Comments from young people
Positive—This movie was insane. It was one of the most violent movies I have seen in awile. But it was a fun ride. I don’t recomend weak Christians to see this as there is a scene in a “Westboro Baptist Church” like setting and the “paster” was saying really hateful things against Jews, Gays, Blacks, ect. This may paint a bad picture of what church is like from a non-christian. To me, this is the most offensive part of the movie. more »
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Ty, age 16 (USA)
Movie Critics

Kingsman unnecessarily takes suave and sophisticated into vulgar, offensive territory…
—Christian Hamaker, Crosswalk

…ultraviolence… heads explode in blockbuster proportions… loosened teeth flying through the air… killing off one another is made entertaining… A impenetrably ludicrous plot… [2/5]
—Marjorie Baumgarten, The Austin Chronicle

…Life in Kingsman is sometimes disturbingly disposable, while death is played for laughs. …More than 100 f-words… an incredibly, abysmally unmannerly movie…
—Paul Asay, Plugged In

…well-suited to juveniles… There’s not a believable moment…
—Barry Paris, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

…overly long, exceedingly violent and ultimately perplexing… there’s little to care about in Kingsman
—Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

…‘Kingsman’ falls awkwardly between Bond and Austin Powers…
—Kyle Smith, New York Post

Comments from non-viewers
Negative—A friend of mine suggested seeing this movie. I had read about it like a week ago, before he made the suggestion. When I text him back I’m just going to have to politely decline. I would prefer not to watch people’s heads explode, or their bodies getting sliced in half. If I watched this movie, I probably wouldn’t be able to eat for days. To be honest, it reminded me of “Agent Cody Banks,” but at least that was a movie both adults and kids could enjoy. This film isn’t worth the time or the money. I wouldn’t even buy it when it comes out on DVD.
—T., age 22 (USA)
Negative—Thank you for your review. I was getting ready to order the movie on DirecTV. I will not waste my money.
—Curtis Selby, age 67 (USA)

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