WARNING: the video above is an EXTREMELY violent scene. It is also a SPOILER. Watch at your own discretion.
Every once in a while, I film will come along which surprises you. Either it comes with presuppositions that get smashed or you simply just don’t know what to expect and are blindsided by it. Kingsman: The Secret Service was such a film for me. I knew it was an action film, I knew it was directed and written by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman of Kickass fame, and I knew Colin Firth was in it so it would at least be watchable. What I didn’t know is that it’s the best James Bond film since Goldeneye.
It’s got everything – searing wit, snappy dressers, suave and sophisticated spies, outlandish gadgets, a killer femme fatale and its tongue firmly lodged in its cheek. There’s a very jolly stiff-upper-lip feel to much of it, and the young protagonist Eggsy provides a really nice grounding element as a far more rough and ready type. And his pug is adorable. The only real bum note is Samuel L Jackson’s surprisingly understated performance – he doesn’t do quiet well, and even a Bond spoof needs an over-the-top villain. He would have been perfect if he’d let loose a little more.
But there was one scene that made my heart stop. By the end of it, my jaw was literally hanging open. Tonks and my sister can verify this. I was so overcome by what I’d just seen that I had to take a moment to recover afterwards. The scene in question is an orgy of violence, a bloodbath of epic performance, set to the wailing guitar of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird. Colin Fith’s character whirls around, dealing death to everyone around him, as guns are fired and knives are stabbed and necks are snapped and – just watch it, ok, just watch it.
It would have been so easy for this scene to just be shock value and nothing else. But the way it’s shot! It’s not all one shot, but the shots are long enough that it feels like one long scene, a bloody dance of death that just goes on and on and on. If you’re not squeamish, then something about it is a real joy to behold. It’s like letting a violent monster loose and watching it unleash hell. As long as the violent monster is beautiful.
And the kicker? Colin Firth did the vast majority of the stunt work himself. It was a requirement for taking on the role. He had to get into shape to do it. With the exceptions of the bits where he’s slammed around (he’s getting on a bit, after all), it’s all him. He’s an artist, a true and pure artist.
If you don’t agree, that’s completely understandable. A brutal yet silly 4 minute sequence of death and carnage isn’t for everyone. But for me, it was the pinnacle of the movie. It’s so well put together that it just blows you right out of your seat. And it makes you feel like you’re right in the thick of it, dodging bullets and deflecting knives with the Kingsman.
Won’t you fly high free bird yeah…