Film Review – Kingsman: The Secret Service
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Kingsman: The Secret Service just another spy movie, a knock-off, wannabe James Bond film, right? You are so wrong. You have seen the trailers. They look interesting, but maybe not enough for you to give it a chance. Let all your preconceptions go about Kingsman because you are in for one hell of a ride.
Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) directed the film with the script by Vaughn and Jane Goldman (also of Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class fame). While at its core, Kingsman can be compared to James Bond, but that’s about it. Kingsman is a secret group with a small membership of talented spies based in England. When one member dies, a new group of recruits is brought into go through training and maybe make it far enough to become a Kingsman. Their code names are all from King Arthur’s Knights of the Roundtable. A Kingsman has died during a mission and Harry Hart aka Galahad (Colin Firth) has submitted his recruit, Eggsy (Taran Egerton). Eggsy has a history with the Kingsman. His father was a recruit, but died before making it to the end. Eggsy is not posh or well-educated like the Kingsman and other hopefuls, but he has street smarts. All the while the recruits are training, the Kingsman are trying to find out who killed Lancelot (Jack Davenport) on his mission to rescue Prof. Arnold (Mark Hamill). Enter Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a tech genius with a lot of money and a hysterical lisp. Along with his assistant Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), they are trying to hatch an evil plan with good intentions.
The film opens in the Middle East with Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing” blasting as the opening credits start. Even the opening credits are original and very cool. This is a hint of many cool things to come. The film moves fast, cutting through a couple points in time to get the backstory in and move on to Eggsy and Harry meeting. The action comes early as well with Lancelot meeting his demise courtesy of Gazelle and her nifty prosthetics.
The action is so good. The camera work and editing make the stunts look so unique and flawless, although the camera work may look familiar if you have seen Kick-Ass. That signature look of Matthew Vaughn is there. But make no mistake, this is a violent film and is not one suitable for kids. There are some interesting ways of killing people and no kid needs that in its head. One of my few dislikes is how long one action sequence goes on for. There is a point to it being long, but I feel cutting it in half and showing the aftermath would have been more effective.
The story itself is interesting and injected with some deadpan comedy and just plain funny moments and dialogue. Kingsman is based on a comic book series by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. I don’t know how close it came to the story it’s based on, but it is a wholly entertaining one. It sets revenge and violence in modern day England while grounding it in the values and manners of an English gentleman, coat tails and all. Everything in the Kingsman service is modern, but with a 50 year old veneer.
Relative newcomer Taran Egerton plays the swag Eggsy really well and his scenes with Colin Firth are the best. Seeing Firth as Hart in his proper suit take down a gaggle of thugs is quite amazing and hysterical at the same time. While such a proper Englishman may not be a stretch for Firth, it is the man trying to teach the street kid a thing or two while being in that character that makes it interesting. On the flip side is Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine. I expected the same kind of character that Jackson usually plays save Nick Fury, but the moment he speaks with Valentine’s signature lisp, it is all over. I absolutely lost it with laughter every time he appears on screen, and the nuances and phobias of Valentine make it even better.
To say that Kingsman: The Secret Service is good is an understatement. The action comedy is pure entertainment at its finest. It is hysterical and ingenious. It is not predictable and it does not take itself too seriously. Matthew Vaughn had fun with this one and it shows. While your significant other of the female persuasion may be dragging you to Fifty Shades of Grey this Valentine’s weekend, Kingsman is a film that both guys and girls will love. I already want to see it again.