Monday, 16 February 2015

Film Review: Kingsman - The Secret Service



"Hey bruv - the name's Bond, James Bond - ya get me?"

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a film from director Matthew Vaughan, the man behind X-Men: First Class and Kick-Ass.

It sees newcomer Taron Egerton play Eggsy, a troublemaker given the chance of making something of himself by Harry Hart (Colin Firth), a smartly-dressed secret agent on a mission to save the world from a maniacal super villain (Samuel L. Jackson).

"You got anything in white?"
Kingsman isn't the kind of film that comes along very often. In a studio system dominated by mediocre YA adaptations, Melissa McCarthy comedies and endless superhero films, it takes something rather special for a film like Kingsman to slip through the net.

For Kingsman, which was adapted from a Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons comic published in 2012, isn't your typical spy film. It's like James Bond on speed or Alex Rider hopped up on blue Smarties. It's Vaughan's homage to classic spy movies where no villain is too maniacal, no evil lair too ostentatious and no secret gadget too silly.

Our hero in this tale of daring-do is Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a good-natured soul who lives on the wrong side of the tracks in inner London with his mum and step-dad. He's naturally gifted, but channels his talent into jacking cars outside his local pub. Where Bond was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, Eggsy doesn't have that same privilege.

That is until Harry Hart (Colin Firth), a Kingsman agent codenamed 'Galahad' recognises his potential and submits Eggsy for entry into the secretive organisation that works outside of the government. Through a series of tests against other candidates (including Sophie Cookson as Roxy), Eggsy must prove his worth and rise to the challenge of being a Kingsman agent.

The Kingsman crew assemble 
Right from the first ten minutes, Kingsman aims to distinguish itself from the classic expectations of spy movies. After villainous henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) slices a man in half down the middle with swords attached to her feet, it starts to dawn on you that this isn't a straight-laced Ian Fleming adaptation like the ones your nan used to coo over.

In fact, Vaughan relishes the opportunity to flip the entire genre on its head, much like he did when directing 2010's controversial superhero film Kick-Ass. In Kingsman, Vaughan tears into spy films with a gleeful abandon that is not unlike a child upturning a toybox and letting his twisted imagination run wild.

This is a film bold enough to soundtrack mass genocide to KC & the Sunshine Band, ballsy enough to punctuate saving the world with a joke about anal sex and brash enough to unleash a knife-wielding Colin Firth on a church full of fanatical Christians. Yeah, it doesn't pull any punches that's for sure.

That church scene I just mentioned also includes one of best lines of dialogue in 2015 thus far (from Colin Firth no less): "I’m a Catholic whore who works at a military abortion clinic and I have a black Jewish boyfriend. Hail Satan." Simply brilliant - just imagine Roger Moore uttering that whilst slurping a dry Martini...

The real delight in Kingsman is watching actors like Firth and Samuel L. Jackson play around with the genre and play against type. Firth, best known for prim and proper period roles, adds kicking serious butt to his repertoire. He really throws himself into the action, all whilst looking super sleek in a great suit and tie.

Vaughan also understands how to frame this action in a way that is impactful and easy-to-follow - the church scene I keep referring to is a great example of how mass hysteria and bloodshed doesn't have to be an unintelligible mess of limbs and bullets. The camera darts back and forth capturing the madness but never feels lost or out of control - it's an exhilarating sequence (one of many!) that will leave you slack-jawed. The way the camera whips around is very Edgar Wright/Scott Pilgrim-esque.

Taron Egerton is really funny in his first lead role, something of a breakout star in fact. It's impressive how a film as kinetic and action-packed as Kingsman still manages to draw breath and encompass the entire spectrum of drama and comedy as well, but it achieves this and then some. For this you can thank Egerton's assured and likeable lead performance that blends wit, charm and heart.

Mark Hamill and Michael Caine have a couple of smaller roles that fill out the impressive ensemble. One of my favourite characters was Sophie Cookson as Roxy, a fellow Kingsman trainee who outshines the boys through sheer smarts and skill. She could've had even more to do than she did, but it was just refreshing to see a female character that wasn't anything remotely close to being a damsel in distress or a mere love interest to Eggsy. She holds her own and I'd love to see her receive an expanded role in any potential sequels.

The Verdict: 9/10


Kingsman: The Secret Service is like if Connery-era Bond had a dirty lovechild with South Park and Kick-Ass. It's rude, offensive and downright gross in places - but it's also hilarious, smart, cheeky and subversive all rolled into one gleeful package. Firth is wonderful playing against type whilst Egerton is a revelation in the lead.

6 comments:

  1. Great review! I really can't wait to see this now after all the praise for it :)
    - Allie

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    1. Thanks Allie! Don't blame you, it's awesome and well worth checking out :)

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  2. I really need to see this one, but will probably have to wait till DVD, since it's not something the wife would go for, at all. Sounds fun though!

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    1. Yeah, my girlfriend wasn't exactly thrilled as well - don't blame her though, it's not her kind of thing. It's a ton of fun though, definitely check it out if you get chance :)

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  3. Yes. With that awesome review given, I will definitely watch this movie. And I think I will have a great time watching this film. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks John - I hope you enjoyed it! :)

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