The film franchise is perfect for those who miss the wit and eccentricity of old 007 movies.
There’s a thrilling sequence in Matthew Vaughn’s latest secret agent caper, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, set in the inevitable Alpine mountaintop retreat. So many familiar ingredients are there — cable car, Eagles Nest-style lair, machine-gun-toting heavies in snowsuits, etc — that you could almost be watching the next Daniel Craig Bond movie. Except you know you’re not because of one key detail: you’re wearing a big, stupid grin.
All right, perhaps I’m being a bit harsh on the recent James Bond movies. But I think we can agree that they are somewhat lacking the jauntiness of the Sean Connery/Roger Moore eras. Sure, Craig is great at looking moody, tortured and buff, and Sam Mendes’s direction has given the last two a depth and arthouse sheen far beyond anything Ian Fleming wrote. Where, though, is the wit, the cheek, the eccentricity that made those early Bonds so much fun?
I totally love and adore Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Here are some reasons why – despite its miserly, sub-60 percent ratings thus far on Rotten Tomatoes – I think you will too.
The Swearing. Every second word is an expletive – as befits a director, Matthew Vaughn, who introduced his two producers at the London premiere this week as “Bad Cop and C*** Cop”. Possibly all that cussing may be a bit rich for some American ears but here’s the thing: no Hollywood studio would ever have passed this script, just as they would never have passed the Kick-Ass script in which the same language is used, only by an 11-year old girl who chops people in half with Samurai swords, like never happens ever in Hollywood movies, which is why Kick-Ass was so cool.
The Casting. No one in this movie was cast because they needed a person of color or a “strong female character.” Halle Berry is quite obviously there because they wanted Halle Berry, not because they wanted to tick a few race and gender boxes. (Ditto Samuel L Jackson in the first Kingsman, who was there, quite obviously because the part needed to be played by Samuel L Jackson, not A.N. Random Black Person).
All right, so Michael Crichton got there first with State of Fear (2005) but that movie would certainly never have slipped under the net if it hadn’t had the creator of Jurassic Park‘s name attached. It’s only in the last couple of years that screenwriters have started to recognise what a good idea it is to choose environmentalists as your bad guys: pure evil draped in cuddly, fluffy sanctimoniousness is drama gold.
See, for example, Kingsman (2014) which cast Samuel L Jackson as an insane Malthusian bent on wiping out most of the human race for the good of the planet; and also Utopia (2013), the genius, black as your hat thriller (insanely nixed after its second series by Channel 4) about a similar “the Earth has a cancer; the cancer is man” type conspiracy.
Now there’s a Nordic Noir TV series I strongly recommend you watch – just out on DVD – called Follow the Money. The Guardian hated it – which is a recommendation in itself. But what’s even better is the reason why I suspect the Guardian hated it: it couldn’t quite get its head around the fact that the bad guys aren’t in Big Oil or the Military Industrial Complex or some faceless corporation. Instead, the baddies work for a renewable energy company with the caring, sharing name Energreen.