I feel bad for Kingsman. Movie people will assume it’s crap after being shunted from its November 2014 release to late winter, a period commonly accepted as a Siberian wasteland for would-be blockbusters. Comics people have grown to hate Mark Millar, so Kingsman doesn’t even have a built-in fanbase that’s gonna rep it. Which is a shame, cuz the movie is actually pretty good.
Running counter to the modern trend of gritty spy flicks — a genre that the film calls out in its own dialogue — Kingsman is simultaneously an earnest throwback to the wacky gentleman spy stuff of old 007 and The Avengers AND a gleeful takedown of their questionable classist underpinnings — white men in Saville Row suits, murdering people to preserve the status of other high class white people who maybe don’t have our best intentions in mind. Think of it as a smarter, wry version ofAustin Powers for people who also want to watch action scenes. Which is my problem with send-ups like the upcoming Spy, which looks generic as hell and YOU KNOW won’t have good action stuff even though there’s nothing stopping it.
Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman have become the laureates of translating Mark Millar comics to screen, maintaining what initially makes those books attractive while understanding their inherent stupidity, whittling away the Mark Millarisms that would spawn a parade of thinkpieces. It’s the difference between Kick-Ass being the controversial, exhilarating geek movie du jour and Kick-Ass 2 being a movie whose sole infamy comes from Jim Carrey disowning it. (I kind of liked Wanted). I can’t speak to how well Vaughn and Goldman pulled this off this time — I ain’t read past the first issue of The Secret Service — but it feels like they scrubbed off a lot of Millar’s affected, cringeworthy Eminem “We Made You” shtick.
Seems a bit foolish when your release date is, at best, counter-programming to Fifty Shades of Grey.