If manners maketh man, then tight camera shots, kinetic choreography and feel-good music coupled with delicious ultra-violence make Matthew Vaughan the go-to action director who seamlessly combines style and substance in this proper spy comedy.
Life is good for Eggsy (Taron Egerton); he is now a fully fledged Kingsman agent and dating Swedish princess Tilde (Hanna Alstrom) but before he can meet her parents, he is attacked by his old rival Charlie (Edward Holcroft), rogue Kingsman now enhanced with a bionic arm. (I suppose he’s a Doomfist main now). Following a high speed chase and fight, Eggsy escapes but Charlie’s robot arm remotely hacks the Kingsman network. The next day simultaneous missile strikes destroy the Kingsman, including Roxy/ Lancelot (Sophie Cookson) and even JB, Eggsy’s pet pug. (John Wick would not approve).
Only Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) survive and activate the Doomsday protocol, which leads them to Kentucky, discovering the Statesmen, an independent intelligence agency and the ‘Murican cousins to the Kingsmen. Since Statesmen’s fortune was founded by distillery all their agents code-name is alcohol themed. Channing Tatum is Agent Tequila, the resident bad boy of Statesman. Halle Berry is Ginger Ale, the tech guru, Pedro Pascal is whip cracking Agent Whiskey and Jeff Bridges is Champagne, or better know as ‘’Champ’’. (Who else but the Dude right?).
And to top it all off, who should show up but none other than Harry/Galahad (Colin Firth). Turn out the Statesmen picked him up a year ago after he’d been shot in the head and where able to revive him with special medical technology (yes, the Statesmen have found the long sought after cure to a bullet in the head). Unfortunately Harry has retrograde amnesia and Merlin and Eggsy have to find a way to jog his memory and get him back to active duty.
The person responsible for the downfall of Kingsmen and Charlie’s new arm is the worlds biggest drug lord, Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore). Her scheme is to corner a monopoly on all illicit substances, cannabis, cocaine, heroin, and then infecting the world’s supply of drugs with a virus that slowly kills users. With millions of people infected Poppy demands the President to legalize all substances, ending the war on drugs and in doing so making herself richer and beyond the laws grasp. If the President doesn’t comply, all those infected will die… except the President is a @$$hole who decides to let people die under the pretense of ‘’we don’t negotiate with terrorists’’.
The Kingsmen and Statesmen team up to take down Poppy and save the world. The story here feels like a plot ripped straight from Archer and older, camper spy movies, but it absolutely works. What was wrong for James Bond in the 90’s is perfect for the world of Kingsmen. So while newer spy films focus on realism and seriousness, Kingsmen delivers exciting action and ingenious innovation with a dash of campy humour without ever losing sight of the plot and the end result is the same: save the world.
(I wonder if Statesmen have a position open for Agent Guinness?).
By Daniel Murphy