Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Kingsman: The Secret Service (Graphic Novel & Movie)

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a cool, polished spy thriller that I didn’t expect to like, but ended up loving despite the weirdness in the last 20 or so minutes of the movie. Why do I love Kingsman so much? In short, I think I love it for the swagger. The two main characters Eggsy and Harry, played by Taron Egerton and Colin Firth, have ridiculous amounts of swagger. The Secret Service is equivalent to James Bond’s MI-6, except with more stereotypically British features.

Beyond the two central characters, there’s a lot to love about the cast. Samuel L. Jackson plays the lisp-y villain, with a knack for weird jokes and a surprising inability to watch violence, despite being the cause of most of the movie’s blood and gore. Sofia Boutella plays Gazelle, the exact opposite in appearance (and gender) of her comic book counterpart, and has long knives...or something...for legs. You never find out why her legs are this way. Mark Hamill plays a scientist who gets kidnapped in the movie, but his character was the actual villain in the comic book. It’s an amusing casting choice when you realize Mark Hamill appears as himself in the comic book. Michael Caine and Mark Strong round out the star-studded cast.

With the release of the Kingsman movie sequel, I felt an obligation to read The Secret Service graphic novel counterpart. After reading the comic book, the movie seems more like an homage to the book, rather than a true adaptation. Many of the same characters appear in both, though often with different names and/or plot contributions. The evil plan is the same, with the same ultimate goal, but the execution of the scheme is different. In the movie, mostly political leaders are kidnapped to safety, but in the book the villain kidnaps all his favorite celebrities. Alas, that leads to the accidental death of Mark Hamill and the abominable anger of Ridley Scott when he gets stood up for a lunch meeting.

Despite plenty of plot and character differences, the comic book and movie have the same spirit, coolness and surprisingly sleek (but graphic) violence. For an off-kilter, swagger-filled take on the classic spy movie genre, Kingsman is a good viewing/reading option.

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