Having never been a huge Bond fan, I go into other spy films with a wary eye. When I saw the trailer for Kingsman: The Secret Service though, I was all in and completely impatient for it’s Australian release date. Who wouldn’t be for Colin Firth as a middle-aged spy in a dapper-as-fuck suit, and some sort of Hunger Games-esque trial for new recruits? (unintentional poetry btw)
I should start this review by saying that I enjoyed 95% of this film. The cast gave some really good performances, the action and the fight scenes were god damn impressive and there was a lot of hilarious swearing, which, if you know me, you know I get a kick out of that kind of thing. There was also a heavy use of the term “bruv” that threw me back to my London days, and that gets an immediate A+. Members of the Kingsman secret service had Arthurian knight codenames (Galahad, Lancelot, Merlin… and Arthur reserved for head-of-the-table Michael Caine), which actually murdered me in my chair with history-nerd appreciation.
Samuel L Jackson was superb as the weirdo tech-villain, as was Colin Firth as the master and newcomer Taron Egerton as the apprentice – who, btw, looks immaculate in a suit. Jussayin’ ladies.
But that’s kind of where the fun stops for female audience members. Beware, spoilers to come.
Out of 10 young people chosen to complete training/compete for the one opening in Kingsman, two of them are female. TWO. One of those ladies dies within 5 minutes of us meeting her, and the other – whilst super intelligent – is preeeeeeeetty nervous about the physical stuff that the boys don’t blink at. It takes a pep talk from heroboy to get her to jump out of a plane while everyone else has already launched themselves out gleefully. She ends up being a super vague love interest and not much else.
(Oh yeah, wanna take a guess how many non-caucasian recruits there are as well? Spoiler, you don’t. There aren’t any. Way to go diversity.)
Eggsy – a nickname which doesn’t make sense at all – is a pretty dodgy kid who steals cars, has an abusive criminal stepfather and a mouth that always seems to get him into trouble. After being bailed out of jail by Firthy McGodInASuit, Eggsy is persuaded to take up the training program, and celebrates by doing some sick parkour off blaconies n shiz. Yeah.
As an extra exercise to the spy training, Firthy teaches our Eggsy the underlying principles of being a gentleman, because that’s what Kingsman: The Secret Service is all about. Being a gent is not about the accent, but about your conduct as a human being. It’s not about the life you’re born into, but the one you make for yourself. It’s about being comfortable in your own skin. Manners maketh man is repeated at least three times, so you know they’re heavy on not being a douchebag.
The basic premise of the story is how you can go from chavvy kid from the East End with relatively no prospects to ass-kicking gentleman who loves pugs, right? So I’m sure you’ll have a bit of a furrowed brow when I tell you that the final scene pre-credits involves an imprisoned damsel in distress who offers “sex in the asshole” if Eggsy old chum saves the world from the villain. The line is as jarring as you’d expect, though not out of the realm of the world the film sits in, so there are a few laughs around the cinema and it’s soon forgotten when the final battle kicks off.
Of course, our hero does save the world. He grabs some champagne flutes and an expensive-looking bottle, and begins running in the direction of the imprisoned Scandinavian princess (no lie, that’s actually who she is). It’s pretty funny because we all know Eggsy gon’ get some, and why shouldn’t he? He played a solid part in stopping global mass genocide… that deserves a reward right? Pfffffffffffffffff.
The problem from here on in is that the film continues rolling on the scene; E walks into the cell and the Nordic princess is sprawled coyly on the couch. The problem is when Eggsy’s spy glasses transmit what he’s seeing back to IT headquarters and we watch as she literally presents herself – or, her bare ass, really – to him. Full view. Ass. Assassassassass.
It’s that the filmmaker chose to explicate what even the dumbest idiot in the audience understood. It’s that instead of ending subtly and you know, not pissing off half the viewers, Matthew Vaughn decided just to casually objectify the prisoner and flash unnecessary butt to – I assume – satisfy lusty thoughts about his wife Claudia Schiffer..? I really have no idea tbh, it’s so unnecessary.
And I think for me that’s the worst part. That all this frustration – which apparently isn’t only mine – could have been avoided. Vaughn could have shown Eggsy with champagne in hand walk into the cell, wink at the camera and close the door. Simple. It satisfies everyone’s personal creativity that way. I can imagine he’s being incredibly romantic and sensitive before tearing her clothes from her body and getting down to serious business. Others can fantasise what they please. It’s win-win.
But when you tell us exactly
whowhat goes down and how, and you’re an offensive twat about it, you take away the onus of the viewer to use their brain. That’s called being a condescending prick, and generally that’s frowned upon. Throw in naked ladies as sexual objects and you’re being a sexist condescending prick. Neither of those options is great, but one is definitely worse than the other.
The problem I have is that the scene added a twisted, crappy-porno feel to what – at one point – was the most fun action film I’ve seen in three years. And that Matthew Vaughn didn’t trust viewers to infer that Eggsy was going to get to do butt stuff with a European babe. Like. We fucking got it dude. You had her say it explicitly before he went to kill the bad guy, and “sex in the asshole” really can’t be mistaken for much else. Unless it was his asshole, which would have been an interesting spin…
The problem is that throughout the entirety of the film, we’re expected to get behind the morals of the gentlemanly assassin, and in the final minutes, Vaughn’s choices go back on that entire ethos. The anal sex thing is actually fine, that’s not the maddening part (because judging people’s sexual preferences is bad guys) – it’s that total objectification of the woman involved. She is his prize for saving the world, and rather than treat the scene with a bit of class – as you’d expect from a gentleman spy film – it’s completely gratuitous nudity thrown in to please creepers. Although those creepers probably could have done without the booty shot too. Not everyone needs to have ass in their face to get it.
I’m actually so frustrated by this scene that it’s wiped any good feelings I had about the two and a half hours before it, and disabled my ability to analyse in a coherent manner. Soz, and well done for making it to the end of this ranty post.
I live for the day ladies in film get to be kickass in their own right not as a side for the man of the hour.