During a raid in the Middle East in 1997, Lee Unwin, a probationary secret agent, sacrifices himself to save his team. Blaming himself, Harry Hart, code-named "Galahad", delivers a medal of valour to Lee's widow, Michelle, and his young son, Gary "Eggsy", saying that if they ever need help, they should call the phone number (which is the date of Lee's death) on the back of the medal.
Seventeen years later, Professor James Arnold is kidnapped by Internet billionaire and philanthropist Richmond Valentine. One of Hart's fellow agents, "Lancelot", attempts a rescue single-handed, but is killed by Gazelle, Valentine's henchwoman, who wears prosthetic legs that are sharpened to an edge. Gazelle releases Arnold, who then meets with Valentine.
In London, Eggsy is now an unemployed young adult living with his mother, infant half-sister, and abusive stepfather, Dean. Despite being highly intelligent and capable, he left training for the Royal Marines and lives the aimless life of a stereotypical chav. Arrested for stealing a car, Eggsy calls the number on the medal. Hart has him released and tells Eggsy about his father - he was an agent of Kingsman, an "independent international intelligence agency" founded in 1919 by wealthy British individuals who had lost their heirs in the First World War, these men channeling their money to turn the Kingsman Tailors into a spy organization that would be unhindered by political associations. With Lancelot's death, the agency has a vacancy. Eggsy agrees to be Hart's candidate.
Eggsy joins the other handpicked candidates, including a woman named Roxy, whom he befriends. Training is overseen by "Merlin", a senior Kingsman. The rigorous selection process, which includes parachuting from a plane and an apparent 'interrogation' on the tracks of an oncoming train, leaves Eggsy and Roxy as the final two candidates. Eggsy fails the last test of shooting the dog they have been training since the assignment started (although it is later revealed that the gun was only loaded with blanks), which Roxy passes to become the new Lancelot. During this time, Merlin notes that Arnold is no longer missing. Hart tries to extract information from the professor, but a chip implanted in Arnold's neck explodes, killing him. Meanwhile, Valentine secretly meets with various powerful individuals, with those that don't agree to his deal being locked in an underground prison. He also announces a giveaway of SIM cards, which grant a lifetime of unlimited free cellular and Internet service.
The signal that triggered the blast which killed Arnold is traced to Valentine's corporation. Hart poses as a billionaire and dines with Valentine to try to ascertain his plans. During the dinner, both Hart and Valentine hint at each other's true motivations. Valentine places a tracer on Hart to learn more about Kingsmen; later, Hart places a tracer on Valentine as well.
Hart tracks Valentine to an obscure hate group's church in Kentucky. Valentine uses his SIM cards to broadcast a tone that causes everyone within hearing distance to become uncontrollably violent. A brawl to the death erupts, during which Hart massacres most of the people in the church, leaving him as the only survivor. Eggsy, Merlin and Chester King — Kingsman's leader, code-named "Arthur" — watch via the video link in Hart's eyeglasses. Afterward, Valentine reveals his plan, then shoots Hart in the head.
Eggsy meets Arthur and notices that Arthur has a scar behind his ear, just like Valentine's other converts. Arthur pours Eggsy brandy containing a radio-triggered poison, but Eggsy distracts Arthur with misdirection and switches the glasses before they drink. Arthur explains Valentine's views: humanity is akin to a virus, and global warming is the Earth's equivalent of a fever. Valentine intends to broadcast his "neurological wave" worldwide to cause a massive culling of the human race, "rescuing" it from extinction. Only those who Valentine deems worthy of living — his allies, who have the protective microchips implanted behind their ears, and the VIPs he kidnapped — will be spared. Eggsy refuses to join Arthur, who activates the poison he has unwittingly consumed, killing himself.
Unsure whom else to trust, Merlin decides that he, Eggsy and Roxy must stop Valentine on their own. Roxy rides a high-altitude balloon into the stratosphere to disrupt Valentine's impending broadcast by destroying one of his satellites, while Eggsy and Merlin infiltrate Valentine’s mountain bunker complex in northern Siberia. Roxy downs the satellite, but Valentine gets a business contact to replace it, then activates the signal, causing mayhem worldwide. Eggsy is recognized and engages in a running shootout with Valentine's henchmen. Eventually, both he and Merlin are cornered separately, but at Eggsy's suggestion, Merlin hacks into Valentine's system and triggers the implants' failsafe. All of Valentine's converts' heads explode, leaving only Valentine and Gazelle in the base. Eggsy kills Gazelle after a fierce and intense fight using a blade in his shoe tainted with neurotoxin, and then spears Valentine with the sharpened tip of Gazelle's prosthetic leg. A dying Valentine falls to the ground floor, removing his palm print from the signal activation pad, terminating the signal.
In a mid-credits scene, Eggsy, now a Kingsman agent, offers his mother and half-sister a new home away from Dean, who flatly objects to Eggsy's suggestion. Eggsy then dispatches him in exactly the same manner that Hart dealt with one of Dean's henchmen earlier.
Jonno Davies played Lee Unwin, Eggsy's father and a former Kingsman candidate who sacrificed himself to save Hart. Nicholas Banks, Nicholas Agnew, Rowan Polonski and Tom Prior portrayed, respectively, Digby Barker, Nathaniel, Piers and Hugo Higins, the other four Kingsman candidates. Fiona Hampton played Amelia, a Kingsman employee who masquerades as a candidate in order to "die" during the first test. Richard Brake played the interrogator during the penultimate test, Ralph Ineson the police interviewer after Eggsy's arrest, whereas Corey Johnson starred as an fanatic church leader, and Velibor Topic portrayed the biggest goon in the bar fight scene.
The project originated when Mark Millar and Vaughn were at a bar discussing spy movies, lamenting that the genre had become too serious over the years and deciding to do "a fun one." To have the time to make the film, Vaughn had to opt out of directing X-Men: Days of Future Past, which he called "a really tough decision". He reasoned that if he did not do it, "somebody else ... [would] wake up and do a fun spy movie. Then I would have written a bloody screenplay that no one would want to make." Colin Firth joined the cast to lead the film on 29 April 2013. It was initially reported in 2013 that Leonardo DiCaprio was in talks to play a villain, although Vaughn himself later denied that he was ever considered stating that he came as close to playing the role "as I am to becoming the Pope." Instead the role of the villain went to Samuel L. Jackson, Jackson took the role, in part because of a career long dream to be in a James Bond movie. As he felt that this was unlikely to come true he took on the role stating "I felt like this was an opportunity to play a really great Bond villain.” Jackson's character has a notable lisp, a choice he decided to make based partially on the stutter he had as a kid. In September 2013, Vaughn cast Sophie Cookson for the female lead, preferring a newcomer over more obvious candidates like Emma Watson and Bella Heathcote. Mark Hamill was cast as Professor James Arnold, a reference to his character in the source comic book being named "Mark Hamill".
Principal photography began 6 October 2013 in Deepcut, Surrey, on a budget reported to be one-third of the $200 million budget of Skyfall. The Alexandra Road Estate in Camden was used for Eggsy's home area, and some scenes were filmed at Imperial College London. The Black Prince Pub in Kennington, South London, was used for various fight scenes and the car chase. Savile Row in Mayfair was also employed as a location and the exterior of tailors Huntsman, which provided the clothes and James Lock & Co. in St James's which provided the hats. While rumours of several celebrity cameo parts were published, including Adele, Elton John, Lady Gaga, and David Beckham, none of these rumours proved to be true.
In May 2014, it was reported that Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson would be composing the music for the film, while in July it was announced that Gary Barlow would be writing the music for the film. Additionally, a song from Take That's seventh studio album III, "Get Ready for It", played during the end credits.
The film's premiere was held in London on 14 January 2015, with director Vaughn and stars Firth, Egerton, and Strong attending, and Take That performing the film's theme live. A regional premiere was held in Glasgow at exactly the same time as the London event, and live footage was streamed from the premiere to Glasgow. Mark Millar also hosted a charity screening of the film ahead of its release in Glasgow to raise money for his old school, St. Bartholomews. The film opened in the United Kingdom on 29 January 2015. In the United States 20th Century Fox planned to release the film on 14 November 2014, but later delayed it to 6 March 2015. It was later moved up to 24 October 2014, before being delayed again to 13 February 2015. The film was released in most of Latin America and Indonesia, with the action scene set in the church removed. The scene, considered vital by the director and film critics, was excised almost completely, leaving only the set-up and immediate consequences.
The trade paperback collecting the comics miniseries was released on 14 January 2015. Vaughn teamed up with luxury retailer Mr Porter to create a 60-piece clothing line based on the film. Mr Porter worked with the film's costume designer, Arianne Phillips, to design the bespoke suiting, while everything from the ties and shirts to eyewear, umbrellas, shoes and watches were designed by heritage brands such as Cutler and Gross, George Cleverley, Mackintosh and Bremont. The collaboration is the first of its kind, making Kingsman: The Secret Service the first film from which customers can buy all of the outfits they see. The film also includes significant product placement for Adidas Originals.
The film was released on digital HD on 15 May 2015 and on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on 9 June.
Kingsman: The Secret Service earned a gross of $412.4 million, against a budget of $81-$94 million. $24.2 million of the takings were generated from the UK market and $128.3 million from North America. Kingsman opened on 30 January 2015 in Sweden, UK, Ireland and Malta. In the UK the film opened with $6.5 million and debuted at second place (behind Big Hero 6). The following weekend it opened in two additional countries: Australia and New Zealand. It debuted atop the box office in both countries and had a successful opening in Australia with $3.6 million. In its third weekend, it earned $23 million from 4,844 screens in 39 countries. It topped the box office in three countries; Singapore, Hong Kong, and Thailand, the rest of which were dominated by Fifty Shades of Grey. In its fourth weekend, it expanded to a total of 54 countries and grossed $33.4 million from 5,940 screens. Its biggest opener outside of North America was in China where it earned $27.9 million. Other high openings occurred in South Korea ($5.3 million) Russia and the CIS ($3.6 million), Taiwan ($3.4 million), and France ($3.3 million). For the United States opening weekend of 13 February, the film was predicted to debut with $28 million. The film opened in 3,204 cinemas behind Fifty Shades of Grey, grossing $10.4 million on its opening day, $15.4 million on its second day, and $10.4 million on its third day, for a weekend gross of $36.2 million with an $11,300 per-cinema average. During the four-day Presidents Day weekend it grossed $41.8 million.
The film garnered positive reviews, and was considered to be a worthy revival of the spy genre. The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes sampled 228 critics and judged 75% of the reviews positive, with an average rating of 6.8/10, calling the film "Stylish, subversive, and above all fun". On Metacritic, the film has a critics' score of 58 out of 100, based on 39 critics, indicating mixed reviews. The Movie Review Query Engine (MRQE) rates the film at 63 out of 100, based on 108 film critic reviews. According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said of the film, "This slam-bang action movie about British secret agents is deliriously shaken, not stirred ... Even when it stops making sense, Kingsman is unstoppable fun". Jordan Hoffman, writing for The Guardian, said of the film, "The spirit of 007 is all over this movie, but Vaughn's script ... has a licence to poke fun. ... no one involved in the production can believe they're getting away with making such a batshit Bond." Comparing the film to those of Christopher Nolan, Hoffman said, "Despite the presence of grandfatherly Michael Caine, Kingsman's tone is about as far from the Christopher Nolan-style superhero film as you can get. Verisimilitude is frequently traded in for a rich laugh".
The film did not manage to escape criticism. Reviewers were critical of the film's depiction of violence, which was considered to be too graphic for a comedy movie. Anthony Lane of The New Yorker stated, "Few recent movies have fetched quite as far as "Kingsman", and countless viewers will relish the brazen zest of its invention." However, Lane was critical of the film's use of stereotypes. Manohla Dargis of The New York Times enjoyed the film, but criticised Vaughn's use of violence as a cinematic tool, calling it "narrative overkill". Jason Ward of The Guardian wrote that "[e]verything about Kingsman exists to disguise the fact that it is solidly conservative". His examples include "[t]he depiction of Valentine's plan as a throwback to a less serious era of spy movies [which] is revealed as a feint, with the ulterior motive of undermining environmentalists". Likewise, The A.V. Club's Ignatiy Vishnevetsky commented that, "Far from being a Team America-style send-up of gentleman spy movies, Kingsman is actually even more reactionary than the movies it's referencing; it traffics in the kind of Tory values Bond flicks merely suggest [...] the thing is, the movie is fun, at least from a visual design standpoint, even though it’s hard to separate its bespoke fashions, future-vintage gadgets, and aristocratic décor from its fusty worldview". Peter Sobczynski of rogerebert.com, who gave the film two out of four stars, likened Vaughn's script to the spy film equivalent of Scream and also criticised the overuse of graphic violence, despite its cartoonish rendering. Vaughn has faced some criticism for an anal sex gag at the end of the film that was a reference to the James Bond films.
#TBT to That Time Archer Met Kingsman, also known as Throwback to That Time Archer Met Kingsman, is a 2017 animated short film set between Kingsman: The Secret Service and Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The short was unveiled at the 2017 Comic-Con’s Kingsman: The Golden Circle panel in Hall H, showing a meeting between Taron Egerton’s Eggsy and H. Jon Benjamin's Sterling Archer, who stumbles into the Kingsmen’s secret arsenal hidden in the bespoke suit shop. There, he helps himself to guns and alcohol. Fighting to reclaim the goods, Eggsy challenges Archer to “the most gentlemanly of competitions”: a drinking contest, while planning to kill him with a drugged glass. However, Archer instead drinks the bottle and passes out. Eggsy, insulted by Archer's behaviour, vows to go to America and "teach them a lesson".
Millar and Vaughn stated that a sequel was possible if the film performs well at the box office, and Vaughn expressed interest in directing the sequel. Vaughn also noted that he hoped to have Firth back in the sequel, and that Strong was interested in returning as well. It was confirmed that Taron Egerton is contracted for the sequel. When asked how they would incorporate Firth’s character into the sequel, Millar stated that various ideas have been discussed, including giving Harry Hart an evil brother, or perhaps turning the character into a ghost. Fox announced a sequel was in the works, but it was unclear if Vaughn would return to direct. On 11 June 2015, it was confirmed Vaughn had begun writing the sequel, and that he might return to direct it. Principal photography was set to begin in April 2016, with an October 6, 2017, release date. It was reported that Julianne Moore was in talks to star as the new villain, and Halle Berry might sign on as the Head of the CIA. On 18 March 2016, Edward Holcroft was also confirmed to reprise his role as Charles "Charlie" Hesketh.
Vaughn later revealed the sequel's title to be Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The plot follows Eggsy and Merlin joining forces with "Statesman", their American counterpart after Kingsman was destroyed by the film's villain Poppy, played by Moore. On 7 April 2016, Egerton revealed the first poster for the film, which strongly hinted that Firth would return for the film; the poster features Harry Hart's trademark pair of glasses with one of the eyes missing below the tagline (a borrowed quote from Mark Twain) stating "reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." Sophie Cookson will also reprise her role as Roxy Morton in the sequel. The next day, Deadline reported that Pedro Pascal was in talks for the role of Jack Daniels. On 12 April 2016, Elton John was in talks about joining the cast of the upcoming sequel. The next day, Channing Tatum announced on his Twitter account that he was joining the cast.