How Colin Firth Comes Back to Life in ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ Is Kind of Ingenious
The following post contains SPOILERS for the Kingsman movies. It is for your eyes only. (Unless your eyes don’t want to be spoiled. Then don’t read it.)
Kingsman: The Golden Circle changed one of the best parts of Kingsman: The Secret Service and somehow managed to make it better.
The scene in question is the death of super-spy Harry Hart (Colin Firth) at the hands of Samuel L. Jackson. Hart is like the more-refined version of James Bond, one of the most unkillable characters in the history of fiction. Harry’s seeming invulnerability is on full display moments before his death, when Jackson’s Richmond Valentine activates his mind-control weapon in a small church. Everyone inside goes insane and tries to kill each other. When the dust settles, Harry is the only person left standing. He walks out and confronts a waiting Valentine, who promptly and suddenly shoots him in the face.
It’s a great twist; perfectly timed and executed for maximum shock value. And it’s exactly why you go to a movie like Kingsman; because in sending up and modernizing stuff from the old Bond movies, it can also do things a Bond movie never could or would, like kill James Bond.
That’s why it was even more shocking when the trailers for Kingsman: The Golden Circle revealed that Harry would return for the sequel, and not just in a flashback. Somehow, Harry survived. And apparently all he lost was an eye.
Bringing back one of the first Kingman’s biggest stars will probably be good for the film’s box office, but it could have been disastrous for the film creatively. Harry’s death was about as unambiguous as these things get. How does someone survive getting shot in the face?
This is how: Spy technology. The Golden Circle introduces the Kingsman’s sister spy agency, Statesman. And Statesman has a gadget that, if applied quickly enough, can save someone from a head wound. There’s a lot of brain trauma mumbo jumbo involved, but you wrap this gadget around the injured person’s head, and then nanobot technology plugs the hole and keeps their brain working until a surgery can repair the damage.
The technology doesn’t work perfectly; Harry survives with terrible amnesia, believing he’s a young man about to become a lepidopterist. When Eggsy arrives at Statesman HQ, Harry doesn’t remember him, which fuels a bunch of different, clever subplots. Now Harry is the student and Eggsy is the master, reversing the dynamic from the first Kingsman. Even after Harry recovers his memory, he continues to have hallucinations, and may not be entirely sane; experimental brain surgery is like that sometimes. So when he kills one of the Statesman, Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) because he believes he was working as a double agent, Eggsy thinks his old friend has lost it. And then they use the same brain technology on Whiskey, leaving you in suspense about whether he was a double agent or not.
You are definitely going to hear people complain that if Harry didn’t die, if people in Kingsman can come back to life at any time, then there’s no stakes in this universe. I think director Matthew Vaughn anticipated that complaint, and stacked The Golden Circle with more than enough character deaths (including Sophie Cookson’s Roxie, Mark Strong’s Merlin, and even Eggsy’s adorable pug) to compensate.
Still, even if all of these characters turn up alive in Kingsman 3, the decision to bring Colin Firth back was worth it. Remember: James Bond can’t die, even when he’s stuck in an inescapable death trap. It doesn’t matter if there’s a laser slowly encroaching on his junk; somehow, 007 finds a way out. Over the deacdes, Bond’s escapes from mortal peril have gotten absolutely ridiculous — almost as ridiculous as walking away from a bullet to the brain. Harry’s miraculous resurrection is just another example of Kingsman gently poking fun at its inspiration.