“Kingsman” is a fun warning about our elites

Summary: When I look back at the most perceptive posts about America, most are film reviews. No surprise, Hollywood spends billions to make theaters into giant mirrors magnifying America. Sometimes accurately, sometimes as a funhouse distorted version. Both reveal much. As in Kingsman: the Secret Service (2014), which is a disturbing combination of both.

“We are past the point of no return, no matter what remedial actions we take.”
— The core belief of the bad guys in “Kingsman.” And of the Left and Right in the West today. This makes them all very dangerous to us.

Kingsman Poster
Available at Amazon.

Review of Kingsman: The Secret Service

If there was justice in the world, Kingsman would have grossed more on its first day than any of the Avengers films did in their full runs. It has everything. It’s a story about a society riven by inequality, and an organization seeking excellence that breaks its own traditions and offers an opportunity for social mobility to one of the underclass. It should inspire us.

Kingsman puts on screen what so many of us suspect we have in real life: treasonous leaders willing to sell us out for both personal gain and to further their ideology. It features logical villains, rather than the Hollywood staples of Lex Luthers who inexplicable turn to crime (rather than becoming billionaires by the fruit of their genius) and Jokers who just want to see the world burn.

Kingsman speaks to all of us. For people on the Left, it has people who realize that we’re killing the world and commit themselves to saving it. For people of the Right, it shows the makers of the world “going Galt“. For the rest of us, in Kingsman those two groups are the villains. Perhaps Kingsman marked an inflection point in our tolerance for the fringes (both of whom have turned against us), just as in 1984 Ghostbusters marked peak support for the regulatory state.

Kingsman also appeals to narrower tastes. Conspiracy nuts get a film about the world’s elites’ secret plan to destroy civilization and rebuild it to better meet their needs. For traditionalists, Kingsman shows a brave, skilled knight who rescues a princess – and the world. Kingsman further spices up these themes with gratuitous sex, violence, and profanity.

Technically, Kingsman is one of the best films that I have seen in years. It has the clearest fight scenes since The Matrix.

Some of the traitors in Kingsman.

Traitors in "Kingsman: the Secret Service"

Origin of the story

Kingsman is loosely based on the “Kingsman: The Secret Service” comics by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons (see Wikipedia). Tellingly, the film changed the organization from the conventional MI.6 to a small secret private group funded by wealthy Brits after WWI. We no longer trust the government to do good (i.e., see the corruption of SHIELD in The Winter Soldier), or even anything effectively. It seems more realistic to believe that effective change comes from the 1% (who own almost everything and have the ability to act decisively).

Sophie Cookson is Roxy
Sophie Cookson is Roxy, Kingsman recruit.

The critics’ speak

Some critics liked Kingsman as absurdist humor, as in Richard Roeper’s review at the Chicago Sun-Times. Its sex and violence offended him, unlike the sex and violence in films that he considers “art.”

“If the North Koreans hired an inspired and gutsy director, gave him tens of millions of dollars for a budget and could somehow persuade Academy Award winners Colin Firth and Michael Caine to headline the cast, they might have come up with something like Kingsman. …This is the craziest movie I’ve seen in a long time. …Kingsman never takes itself seriously, announcing itself as a hard-R parody from the get-go and keeping us in the joke throughout. On Day One of filming, they must have thrown away the moral compass and taken a group vow to splatter our sensibilities with stylish, gratuitous violence and one ‘Wait, what?!’ moment after another. …with scenes that play like a prologue to a porno reel. …a very violent but very silly movie.

Perhaps Roeper is wrong and we should take Kingsman seriously. Our elites are trying to destroy us. This has been a growing theme here, and will be a major theme next year.

Some reviews are inadvertently fun, such as this by Christopher Orr at The Atlantic.

“It’s a winning joke: the tasteful, well-appointed gentleman delivering a bloody beat down …it’s an awfully tricky proposition to maintain this contradiction – extolling the virtue of good manners in the most ill-mannered way possible – for the length of an entire feature film.”

Much of British history consists of “well-appointed gentleman delivering a bloody beat down” as needed to keep the class (or colonial) game going.

Some of their comments are fascinating, such as Bilge Ebiri at New York Magazine: “Kingsman is not a film for gentlemen. It’s for us, the great unwashed, bloodthirsty audience.” From Euripides and Aristophanes to Shakespeare, plays have featured slaughter and crude humor – because these are elements of life. Bilge’s unabashed hatred of the public (aka “customers”) was ahead of the pack. They have grown more open about this, proudly so with Rise of Skywalker.

In the past, successful critics were successful because they shared our outlook. That is increasingly seldom so. The reviews show in embryonic form modern critics’ preference for abstraction over life, alienation over engagement (mockery is critics’ favorite perspective), and disdain for visions that challenge them (e.g., see their reaction to the Wachowski’s brilliant Speed Racer).

The best advice in a modern American film

The key to social mobility

Details about Cast and Crew

Kingsman was directed by Matthew Vaughn, directed Kingsman and co-wrote it with Jane Goldman. This team produced the superlative action-adventure – romance Stardust (2007). Both films had roughly the same production budget ($90 million), but Stardust grossed $137 million (losing money after marketing and distribution) and Kingsman grossed $414 million (a big hit). We want absurdist humor with double doses of sex, violence, and profanity. So that is what Hollywood manufactures.

In the lead roles are the experienced Colin Firth (as Harry Hart/Galahad) and Mark Strong (as Merlin), Michael Caine (as Arthur), and Samuel L. Jackson (as Valentine). The Kingsman recruits are Sophie Cookson and Taron Egerton (as Eggsy).

Kingsman: The Secret Service is available at Amazon.

Sofia Boutella as Gazelle
Sofia Boutella is Gazelle, the world’s top assassin.

For More Information

Ideas! For some holiday shopping ideas, see my recommended books and films at Amazon. Also, see a story about our future: “Ultra Violence: Tales from Venus.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.  You might enjoy other posts about Book and film reviews, posts about Art, myth, and literature, eand specially these…

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  3. “Rise of Skywalker” – I saw it so that you won’t have to.
  4. “Skywalker” is the “Transformers” for our time.

Trailers for Kingsman and the prequel

The first film (trailer below) was excellent fun. The sequel, The Golden Circle, was terrible. The prequel looks great!

Coming in February 2020: The King’s Man.


15 thoughts on ““Kingsman” is a fun warning about our elites”

  1. Thanks Larry for the latest on ‘we are doomed’ movie series. Somehow I’m inclined to read the review—in pretty much full agreement–and skip the movie itself, the viewing of which seems unnecessarily masochistic.

    1. Michael,

      Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman wrote the wonder action-adventure romance, Stardust (2007). I strongly recommend it!

      Then ponder the fact that Stardust and Kingsman had roughly the same production budget ($90 million), but the former grossed $137 million (probably lost money after marketing and distribution) and the latter $414 million (a big hit). We want absurdist humor with double doses of sex, violence, and profanity.

      1. “We want absurdist humor with double doses of sex, violence, and profanity”—thus making the target message 3 times more repellent but riveting to most of the audience who get what they came for.

      2. Michael,

        Entertainment is like the restaurant biz: in a free market, people get what they want. Hence McDonalds and Hollywood.

        Much of the criticizm of America is just ignorance of this basic fact. Most notably, all the whining about the news media. People won’t pay for news, but complain that the news does not meet their very high standards.

      3. You are exactly correct Larry. Much of country values the wrong thing. They look for escape not reality. Entertainment vs education. Diversion vs investing themselves. We are reaping the whirlwind of those undeserving of America’s success. There has to be a reckoning.

      4. Well, if you pay for cable you are subscribing to news channels. That said, last I heard cable subscription rates are falling,

      5. Frank,

        “if you pay for cable you are subscribing to news channels.”

        I’m pretty sure that is false. You are paying the cable company to bring a package to your house. The basic package might include advertiser supported news, but the cable company does not deliver any of your dollars to them.

        A small fraction of Americans pay for part of the cost of providing news, but the vast majority of the cost to produce news comes from advertisements. You are the product, the advertisers are the news companies’ clients.

      6. I think the problem with Stardust is that the hero is mostly incompetent, while Eggsy is a total badass. The action scenes were also vastly better.

        I liked Mark Strong’s “Country Roads” scene in Golden Circle, but otherwise yeah the sequel wasn’t great.

      7. Javier,

        I don’t believe you understand the plot of Stardust. No surprise, since it has been replaced by “Mary Sue” women heroes who are awesome at the opening – and grow even more so (eg, like Rey).

        Stardust is, like Star War (the original trilogy) the classic “hero’s quest. The hero is everyman. Like Luke and me (when I watched it in 1977)- unimpressive at the beginning. He grows to become strong and brave, inspiring us to do so.

        Eggsy is what Bowman calls the “slacker hero.” He is an awesome slacker at the start. Shiftless and aimless, with no evidence of effort to develop his skills and minimal training (although Kingsman implies that he did have a little). And becomes more so quickly and easily.

  2. It seemed to me that the declaration of a ‘climate emergency’ has been designed as a gateway for more extreme forms of action. Not by governments, but by the activists who will use the emergency as their justification. It’s not that different from the left labelling almost anyone as a fascist, it justifies radical thoughts and actions. Because who wouldn’t want to fight against evil fascists????

    It seems more realistic to believe that effective change comes from the 1% (who own almost everything and have the ability to act decisively).

    The era in which many of Peter F Hamilton’s novels are set is based on this premise. Big families, fabulously, multi-generationally, wealthy. Feudal Barons in spaaace.

    Worth a read if you’ve not already tried some. Start with the “Night’s Dawn” trilogy…

    1. Steve,

      “Not by governments, but by the activists who will use the emergency as their justification.”

      No need to guess. For years climate activists have told us their plans. All involve using the government’s power to implement the standard Leftist agenda, with the Climate Emergency as an excuse.

  3. Kingsman is a lot of fun. Like Stardust it is a near perfect film and contains valuable insights into humanity.

    I first had the concern that the elites would tire of democracy and just kill most of humanity off 25 years ago or so. With technology, they don’t need as many human peons, so they can live their enhanced life and not even need to worry about silly things like stopping the nationalists around the world from throwing off their control.

    With the environmental fearmongering, I am surprised they haven’t done so, but it might be the next step… bringing the world down to a population of 30 million or so and keep population controls after that. I don’t believe they too concerned about mass murder, as long as they can justify it for the “greater good”.

    It still may happen.

    In a typical aristocratic society, the powerful feel some allegiance to their peons, but I doubt today’s oligarchs really care at all ….

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if artificially induced “Peak Oil” is one of the game-plans in place.

      So using climate change to go after all fossil fuels.

  4. Pingback: Will eco-activists kill billions to save lots of the arena? – Daily News

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