His roles in rom-coms throughout the 1990’s dominated my knowledge of who he was an actor, and he just never struck me as someone who could pull off a role in this movie. I was genuinely concerned that this movie might bomb because of his involvement as one of the main characters, Harry Hart — the gentlemen spy.
My aim couldn’t have been anymore off the mark. *Pun intended*
The first aspect of Firth’s portrayal of Harry Hart that caught my attention was what I can only describe as an old-school James Bond-ish suaveness and charm. Firth took the British old-school spy and made the audience feel like it could exist in this new fast-and-furious era of explosions and CGI. I attribute the success of his gentleman spy to his veteran status as a romantic lead. It becomes quickly apparent that his experience as a romantic lead in previous films leant itself to making Harry Hart a more believable character -- even if the entire film was in jest to the British spy genre.
Firth as Harry Hart, holds himself with respect, charm, subtly and self-confidence. Well-knowing that he could kick the ass of almost any man, yet chooses not to. The way he walks, the way he talks and the way Firth catches your eye displays a measure of mischievous determination and coy flirtation.
From his ability to wear a well-tailored suit and precisely delivered lines you can start to accept that in fact, Harry Hart is believable as a member of one of the worlds most prestigious spy agencies -- The Kingsmen.
There were a few lines of Firth’s that I thought made his character so believable, genuine, and enjoyable to watch. From comedic and charming to philosophical, and throwbacks to the entire British spy genre, the lines still stick in my head.
“Manners maketh man,' do you know what that means?” - Harry Hart
Perfectly delivered, this short line quickly precedes a knock-out fight where Firth proves that not only can he quip, he can be an action star -- only the way a gentleman spy could, by kicking ass with class.
“The suit is the modern gentleman's armour.” - Harry Hart
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” -Harry Hart, quoting Ernest Hemingway
“If you're prepared to adapt, you can transform.” - Harry Hart
You’ve done it Colin Firth — you are an action star. A well-dressed, debonair, British gentleman spy. Your romantic comedies have not defined you as an actor, nor stunted your talent or expertise at convincing us you are someone else. Also, would you mind telling them to make a second one and get you to star in it somehow?
P.S. If you can’t get enough of this film (and Colin Firth), head over to Becoming a Kingsmen Knight to hear him do some voiceovers.
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