A spy organisation recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program, just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius. (IMDB)
Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past), co-written with Jane Goldman (Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, The Woman in Black). It stars Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Sofia Boutella, Sophie Cookson, Mark Hamill, Michael Caine and Jack Davenport.
The agency is fashioned after King Arthur and the Knights of the not-so-round table, including a Merlin. All the agents’ code names are derived from the knights, like Lancelot and Galahad, and Michael Caine is Arthur. Styled after old school spy films with its personality, gadgets, and gentlemen super agents, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a spy action comedy film based on the comic book The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.
Matthew Vaughn has created a film with a personality. An absurd, quirky, nostalgic and violent personality. It takes after classic spy movies with its style, lightness, the colourful characterisation and the even more colourful supervillain. And yet it’s like the new brand of thrillers and spy films which lean towards realism. With its gritty violence and expertly choreographed, lengthy action sequences it’s more like the Bourne, Bond, and other recent, action films.
It also seems to make fun of the very spy films of which it speaks and, subsequently, itself. The humour is satirical, tongue-in-cheek and often crass. But it manages to not take itself too seriously, and neither should the viewer. Instead it becomes an extravagant yet down to earth source of entertainment.
The plot is typical yet it surprises one at many turns. Other than the excessive, often dispensible swearing, the writing is good.
The casting is spot on. Taron Egerton, playing the role of Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, was refreshingly good. A very well written, three dimensional character for a change who was more than just a typical street smart guy. Egerton stood out and held his own very well among the rest of the distinguished cast. Samuel L. Jackson as Valentine was a good villain but not effective at being a scary, “genius megalomaniac”. His partner in crime Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), so called for her razor sharp prosthetic legs I’m sure, was much more impressive in that regard. Mark Strong (Merlin) was super as the dignified agent and trainer, especially in the second half.
Colin Firth as Harry “Galahad” Hart broke away from his popular image and pulled off the action sequences better than most. The standout church scene was simultaneously the most awesome and revolting piece of cinema I may have ever scene. I was gaping throughout because of the unapologetic violence and the sheer amazingness of the action, choreography and camera work. It’s a prime example of many scenes which were darkly humorous in both tone and subject matter.
Technically the film is quite perfect. During the quicker movements of the fight scenes the camera was never too close or wide, and there wasn’t much of the incomprehensive blurring seen in most action movies in scenes of hand-to-hand combat. The effects, the editing, and the music – everything is superb. If not for the effective direction I don’t think the movie would have been as good. And yet, none of these elements overpowered the story or rose above it. All of it only served to heighten the comic book/spy thriller aspects of the film and served to compliment the story.
Morality issues such as excessive violence are not present, particularly after the major fight scenes. The heroes are bold and do what is necessary. In that regard the story maintains a lightheartedness and is not meant to be taken seriously. Whilst some deaths are (mostly) meaningful, no character becomes bogged down by them. Lack of emotional melodrama sees characters moving on to the next problem at hand.
Kingsman is a bizarre, head-spinning movie with memorable characters. Its essence and attitude rub off for a while. I left the hall with a smile on my face which stayed for some time, and the film spun around in my head for longer. It’s a multiple time watcher for me and I give it an extra half star for its novelty. However the film may not be to everyone’s taste, and those who dislike violence and outlandish films may want to skip it.