The film’s trailer to the contrary, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a lot more than just a comic send up of the James Bond style of upper crust British Spy. The film has a large number of funny moments but it is also very violent and more than a touch irreverent. The most consistent quality of the film is its entertainment quotient, as it’s never less than entertaining.
Colin Firth as Kingsman agent Harry Hart is flawlessly cast as our introduction to this world of perfect gentlemanly conduct and deadly killing precision. And in stark contrast to the recent proclivity of the Bond franchise to do away with all those cool spy gadgets, this film is littered with deadly hardware that would have made the old Q more than happy.
Underlining the cool technology on display is a story based on character development, honour and paying back impossible depts. Harry becomes a mentor to Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (played with emerging star power by Taron Egerton) who is the offspring of a fellow agent and friend to Hart that had made the ultimate sacrifice. His mentorship is put to the test as they clash with billionaire baddie Valentine (played by Samuel L. Jackson) who taps into mind control and has the world on the edge of chaos.
The film misses few chances to shock the audience and often times goes into directions that have you shaking your head, Big budget action films don’t usually play with the rules this fast and loose. The end result is a defiance of the norm that will leave you with a smile on your dial and give you the opportunity to recommend this to friends without any hesitations. Few films this year will provide more entertaining escapism.
Kingsman: The Secret Service – another view“When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite”
“Manners maketh man.”
Harry Hart AKA Galahad
Kingsman kicks off guns blazing with Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing rocking on the soundtrack and a flash back to 1997. Wait. What? Money For Nothing in 1997? That’s not right! And superimposed over this driving soundtrack is a flashy opening credits sequence that would usually flag a forthcoming crap movie. But what I didn’t realise at the time was that Kingsman is directed by Matthew Vaughn. I’d seen the one-sheet for the film in the foyer and figured this was yet another entrant in the seemingly never-ending queue of comic book adaptations. If I’d known prior that Vaughn was the director, my initial doubts would have been unfounded as I would soon find out.
In 2010, Vaughn produced Kick Ass, a brilliantly violent super hero movie about social degradation, indifference and spiralling crime. Its themes were as hard edged as it’s violence and in this regard Kingsman is a worthy successor.
The story has Harry Hart AKA Galahad (Colin Firth) recruiting juvenile delinquent Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton) into the Kingsmen – a group of aristocratic crime fighters posing as tailors. Naturally there’s some internal resistance from the posh stodgies to recruiting a young chap from the other side of the tracks and this sets up the primary theme of class strictures and the boundaries they impose.
Vaughn is finding himself a master of action violence, a worthy successor perhaps to Quentin Tarantino. And Like Tarantino, Kingsman references many other films. Some explicitly so like Trading Places, La Femme Nikita and (rather comically) Pretty Woman. But others are more subtle like lisp-encumbered master villain ,Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), is reminiscent of Mr Glass from Shyamalan’s Unbreakable and his lethal double amputee sidekick, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), plainly channels Gogo Yubari from Tarantino’s Kill Bill. And the film as a whole has Vaughn clearly referencing the James Bond franchise (and giving it in the ass). As it turns out, James Bond through the “Kick-Ass” sphere looks mighty good!
Colin Firth is absolutely brilliant playing against type as the stiif upper lip killer. He’s the opposite number to Hit Girl in every respect and just as cool. Egerton also plays well as the chav who finds himself above his station and discovers there’s power in tweed. Mark Strong is as strong as ever as Merlin and it’s nice to see him at the opposite end of the crime scale to Kick-Ass. Jackson is a hoot as always as is Michael Cain as leader of the aristocrats, Arthur (yes, all the good guys have Camelot namesakes). And Boutella is a magnificent villain in both character and design.
The only downside is that the means by which Eggsy is recruited is a bit naff and unlikely but I suppose it is, after all, just a McGuffin.
Kingsman is ultra violent, ultra cool, funny and has a poignant social message to boot. It kicks out the jams from the get go and it’s the most fun you’ll have without watching Kick-Ass.