[EDIT – 02/25/2015: As of a couple days ago I’ve decided to stop approving comments in moderation that are just variations on telling me I’m a terrible reviewer (this isn’t a review anyway, it’s a recap and warning), that I don’t understand jokes (because we all know misogyny and white supremacy are hilarious), or that I should stick to “chick flicks” and would be justifiably murdered if this movie were true. I don’t have time and don’t feel like providing a place for “edgy” white boys to tell the world how little they care about other people. You have the rest of the internet for that.]
Last night I saw a free preview of Kingsman: The Secret Service and I was disgusted and angered by what I saw. It’s a foul movie full of terrible politics and I’m sure it will be very popular with the worst parts of Reddit, 4chan, and Gamergate. The movie opens with three white men in paramilitary gear torturing an Arabic man and it ends with a woman being a literal sexual reward for the protagonist.
The movie is about a secret non-governmental conspiracy of rich white Englishmen who know what’s best for the world and use violence to “save” everyone from democratically elected politicians. The villain is a black man and his main ally is a north African woman with disabilities. Now, he is fantastically wealthy due to his tech company and she is shown using sharpened metal running blades to kill lots of people, but there are literally no non-white people who are shown on the side of the “good guys.”
What’s more, the villain is motivated by a desire to fight climate change and there’s no indication that anyone on the side of the protagonist sees climate change as an important issue. That puts things dangerously close to the kind of libertarian, neo-liberal corporatism that’s doing everything it can to stop any efforts to combat climate change through government channels in the real world. Basically all the world leaders in this film are shown as being enthusiastically on board with the villain’s plan to save the planet (and humanity) by causing dramatic population decrease through a violent cull. One of the only two world leaders we actually see supporting the villain is President Obama. So, yeah, white boy politics all over.
The protagonist is a poor white man who is recruited to diversify the all white, all upper-class Kingsman organization. That’s the diversity the film’s creators seem to be pushing for: more types of white men making decisions without any checks on their actions but other white people. There is one woman who becomes an agent of Kingsman in the movie, but despite the fact that she is allegedly more qualified than the protagonist (mostly by virtue of being willing to murder a pet dog), she’s sidelined into a cheerleader/support role throughout the movie. For additional “white men are better than everyone” points, the villain is a black man who is supposed to be a technological genius MIT graduate but is shown repeatedly having to have technological things explained to him and is then out-hacked by some white guy, just because. Oh, and he’s a complete idiot about avoiding electronic surveillance.
There was one scene where I actually felt ill. The protagonist’s mentor is lured to a meeting of a Westboro Baptist Church analog (one that is even more broadly hateful than the real WBC) in order for him to be killed when the villain tests the technology that will induce the population cull he has planned. The church is blanketed with a sonic signal that ” increases human aggression and eliminates inhibition” which causes everyone inside to begin attacking each other, including the mentor. What ensues is a sequence of the protagonist stylishly murdering a whole bunch of people who, while they hold abhorrent opinions, haven’t actually injured anyone until they become victims of this attack just like himself. Instead of being played as a tragedy the whole scene is played as a showcase for his bad ass killing skills, complete with gratuitous slow motion, camera pans, and a classic rock soundtrack. The whole thing is engineered for you to cheer him on as he murders the “wrong kind” of white people. The visuals, soundtrack, and the laughter of the rest of the audience made me feel queasy and I almost walked out. I reminded myself that I had committed myself to hate-watching the whole thing so I could warn everyone just how bad it gets, so I stayed, and it continued to show me horror after horror of white dudebro mentality.
After the part of the plan executed by one (white) woman on the protagonist’s side is shown to be ultimately ineffectual, he demonstrates that he’s learned the lesson he was being taught when he failed the “murder your cute puppy” test earlier in the movie. He and his white guy team member murder everyone in the villain’s secret base except for him and his disabled female sidekick. The whole scene is played as laughable, glorious spectacle. This is especially interesting because the “weakness” of the villain is that he finds committing acts of violence sickening and the one time he actually kills someone himself he’s asked if it felt good and he shouts “No! It feels terrible!” as a laugh-line. The implicit moral is that good guys kill ruthlessly by the hundreds (including being willing to kill their beloved pet dogs) and that weak bad guys are uncomfortable with personally committing murder.
Finally, after almost all of the “bad guys” have been slaughtered, the protagonist encounters a woman who has been imprisoned by the villain. She asks him to let her out of her cell and he says he will if she kisses him. She says “If you let me out, you will get more than a kiss.” Before he can free her, though, he learns that the villain and his sidekick are still alive and still a threat. So he hefts his weapon and says “Time to save the world.” The imprisoned woman then says “If you save the world, we can do it in the asshole.” Then the protagonist says “I’m definitely saving the world, then!” and runs off. After he kills the last remaining “bad guys” he immediately runs back to her cell. She asks him if he saved the world and he says yes, then unlocks her cell to find her lounging seductively in lingerie. Virtually the last shot of the movie is a POV shot of her bare ass presented to him, in case you were secretly hoping he wasn’t about to gleefully have anal sex with her as his rightful reward for being a white man who knows that what the world needs is a bunch of violence directed how he thinks is best. I’m a big fan of anal sex and this movie made me feel gross about anal sex.
Oh, and to make it all even better the movie strongly implies that Iggy Azalea is not only important enough that the villain wanted her on his side but that she also bravely resisted his plan.
Don’t see this movie unless you’re a horrible piece of trash.