Kingsman – The Secret Service: A Critical Review

by Hafsah Aneela Bashir
“So I watched the film Kingsman – The Secret Service, based on the acclaimed comic book, directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick Ass, X-Men First Class) which tells the story of a super-secret spy organisation in London. Described by one review as ‘perhaps the riskiest mainstream movie in years, Vaughn’s love letter to spy movies may be uneven in places, but it’s ultra-violent, envelope-pushing, and fun enough to overcome the flaws. Bond with the stabilisers taken off’.

I don’t know if I was the only one to see beyond the fun but I found it to be an accumulation of disturbing stereotypes coupled with the stuff of nightmares depicting a not so distant future.

The trailers promoting the young to join up as cannon fodder for the army were bad enough but the film itself glorified the sacrificing of new generations for the state as an honour – at least for those who can truly become a ‘gentleman’ which by my understanding meant, shedding your underbelly/working class identity, and joining the secret service where, donned in pinstripes and posh English accents, one can save the world. As long as your white that is which smacks of the white saviour complex that we all too often see in movies.

Spoof of previous spy movies or no spoof, comedy or satire, what was noticeable was that all the people in positions of power were white males, the black man was the criminal super mind, the Arabs were the enemy and women the sexualised prop at the sides of men- if not helping save or destroy the world with their male counterparts then certainly offering their ass to men for gratification. Maybe this is explained away by the reviewer who said ‘the core story unfolds predictably, but, like the Kingsmen themselves, with style. Vaughn keeps his tongue firmly in cheek as his ever-dynamic camera conveys the action. Yet, admirably impudent and slyly funny as the film can be, it’s mostly just an exploration of typical comic-book tropes.’

I don’t think so. How far from the films reality are we really (is what I found myself asking during the super slick CGI far fetched illusory of the film)?

It glorifies warfare, killing, gun culture, deception, sacrificing the young for state and country in a world where nothings is as it seems. The young must become killing machines and demonstrate endurance. Placed among some humorous shots, the most disturbing scene of the film I found was the mass killing of racist bigots in an American church, where the congregation turn on each other like animals and kill in brutal sick fashion. Apparently shown to be done by triggering neurological waves via phone sims rendering all human inhibitors to switch off thus causing brutal aggression, it made me think of MK Ultra and mind control conspiracies that we are so quick to shoot down. But then the film also plays on other concepts that have been relegated as conspiracy theories such as New World Order, the mass culling of humans, saving a chosen elite, security chips to control human activity, global warming among other things! How much of this is truth hidden in plain sight?

The film also reminds us that not only does murder become devoid of guilt when one is not pulling the trigger themselves, but also how people’s ignorance and inability to challenge or question what is going on around them makes them easy targets for manipulation.

Corruption and greed festers at the top of society’s triangle while mass waste features at the bottom with ‘sheeple’ only interested in consumerism and themselves. It’s dog eat dog world at its worst. I don’t have to look far to see what power structure that’s based on!

It left me feeling alarmed at what messages our kids are being subjected to when watching morally ambiguous films, even if they are peddled as comedy. That they still promote negative stereotypes and dominating ideologies is problematic to me. You only need to look at highly sexualised music videos that are nothing short of soft porn to realise how influential these messages can be. Call me a prude if you want to. I call it a concerned conscious!

Hafsah Aneela Bashir is currently studying for an MA in Postcolonial Literature and Culture at the University of Leeds. She writes and performs poetry and is part of a Humanitarian organization delivering medical aid and emergency supplies to conflict zones as well as working with projects within her community. These interests infuse social and political experiences with creativity to provide commentaries on ethnicity, religion, identity, racism and resistance. 


Categories: Rethinking The World, Reviews

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