I had Three Problems with “Kingsman” [spoilers ahead]

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVED the first two thirds to death, seriously. There were so many amazing things about the film, like the general premise, the aesthetic, the setting up of the plot, Gazelle or the entire Valentine character… but I left the theatre with a bitter aftertaste. And here is why:

  1. Harry’s death – and him staying dead: Given that his character was the catalyst for the entire plot, I was rather surprised when Valentine killed him. Even more surprised when he did not, in fact, come back and go all BAMF over the big showdown. However, in the light of the entire “It’s not that kind of movie” theme, I understand that the lack of resurrection did serve a function in the overall structure of the film – it just left me deeply disappointed. I could have overcome this one, mind you, if it weren’t for the ensuing last third…
  2. The chauvinistic male power-fantasy ending: I understand that the entire film is a male power phantasy and basically the male version of Jupiter Ascending in terms of wish fulfilment. And I mean, Kingsman did pull off a great female character – then why do they have to ruin it with the anal joke at the end? Eggsy getting the princess after everything would have been just fine – why portray anal sex as the ultimate price in such a crude way? What I’m taking issue with here is the “if you save the world you’ll get to fuck me from behind” line (not quoted verbatim, though) and the last image Merlin sees through the camera, where the princess is wriggling on her stomach in front of Eggsy on the bed. I cannot put into words exactly what it was that disgusted me exactly, but it lies within these two images.
  3. The way they handled the violence: Don’t get me wrong, the aesthetics up until the heads explosion scene were awesome. Especially Gazelle’s scenes were incredibly well done in terms of cinematography and generally made me really happy. Even the computer-game style POV shots added to the aesthetic… However, when the heads started exploding and it was all colourful smoke and fireworks…

Granted. Valentine can’t see blood, so it makes sense that he designed the chips in a way that would keep the red stuff to a minimum. But what the utterly unrealistically shaped clouds of smoke and brain matter made me realise was just how overly glorified violence was in this film.

I love action movies. I have nothing against mountains of corpses piling up behind a protagonist. What Kingsman did that I do not agree with, is take the finality out of violence. It’s all very nicely staged, makes you go “wow” and “ahhh” with awe, though not once does the film actually portray, let alone pay any heed to the incredible scope of death and destruction that was left in its wake. I’m not advocating a long philosophical discussion of the ethics of killing for the greater good, though declaring “Everyone is saved!” while half the world has just bashed each other’s heads in and the world’s leaders are all lying in a mountain bunker with exploded heads… That is sending the wrong message for me.

There was no reflection on the millions that surely died during the time the sim cards were active. There was only a celebration featuring anal sex of having saved the world, without acknowledging that said world’s future probably lies in anarchy with a lot of the leaders dead and who knows how many officials more.

So, yeah. While the film delighted me for the first two thirds, it left a very bitter aftertaste. It all does make sense within the world the film created, so I totally understand that not everyone will take offense like I did, but… yeah. I just can’t think fondly of this film after the ending.


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