MOVIE REVIEW: KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: MATTHEW VAUGHN / SCREENPLAY: MATTHEW VAUGHN, JANE GOLDMAN / STARRING: TARON EGERTON, COLIN FIRTH, SAMUEL L. JACKSON, MICHEAL CAINE, MARK STRONG / RELEASE DATE: JANURAY 29TH
When it comes to art, there is this lingering notion that people must strive to be “avant-garde”, yet the pursuit of this seems to come with as much innovation as it does pretention. However, when it pertains to the world of film, artistry can come in many forms and one of the most satisfying is an unashamed embracement of fun. And after his past successes at adapting comic book material, director Matthew Vaughn returns with his adaptation (and much altered - often for the better) of Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons’ The Secret Service. Kingsman: The Secret Service boasted the promise of espionage action and enjoyment, but even the most optimistic among us will be shocked with the results, as this film further exemplifies what a Hollywood hellraiser Vaughn is.
Taking the very different approach (from the comic), in that the agency in question is not MI6 but Kingsman - a secretive organisation that operates via a tailor business. The film tells the story of veteran agent Harry Hart (Firth) moulding a young, streetwise lad nicknamed Eggsy (Taron Egerton) into a super spy. It is a relatively simple set-up but one that takes constant joy in both parodying and paying homage to the conventions of the spy movie genre. This star-studded, ridiculous and deliriously fun romp plays like a retro Bond movie as directed by your inner 14 year old (with a profane gob) and as written by you and your candy-gobbling mates! And while there are the odd minor wrinkles tonally, you’ll be having far too much fun to allow them to be an issue.
Vaughn and Goldman’s script crackles with the violent comic energy of Kick-Ass and the spectacular action of an X-Men film. The dialogue is sometimes suave and other times knowingly cheesy, and the plot delightfully offers a Moore era Bond throwback with Brosnan era technology, that’ll have you asking, “Why so serious, James?” From Sofia Boutella’s razor-legged femme fatale side antagonist Gazelle (think Richard Kiel’s Jaws meets Grace Jones’ May Day or X-Men’s Mystique) to the superb choreography (which recalls Edgar Wright’s The World’s End), this film offers action aplenty and the constant gut-busting script is the olive in the martini. The opening does throw you a tad as to what to expect, but from there on in the momentum never stops.
The cast clearly love every minute of it too, with young Taron Egerton making a hugely likeable central character to root for. Although many may well be more taken by Colin Firth, who sends his own image up beautifully as he powers the film’s central message that the wealthy are not always the best of us. Indeed Firth and Egerton have a snappy chemistry throughout and are well matched by one of the most fantastically whacked-out bad guys in recent memory in Samuel L. Jackson. This is no The Spirit-style camp; Jackson steals numerous scenes as the film’s rich, colourfully-dressed, lispy, pop culture megalomaniac, whose whole character is as lovingly ridiculous as his plot for a “new world”. And fine support is on offer too in Mark Strong as the Q-esque Kingsman operative, and fans of the source material will giggle at the film’s cameo.
How much you take fromo Kingsman will admittedly depend on how much hyperactivity you can handle, but for all Vaughn’s off the leash violence and frenzied thrills, Kingsman never feels to lose it’s groove. Matthew Vaughn’s film has a fitting personal touch to it and by the end you will be shocked at just how accomplished the film is. Pop culture gags, genre satire and social class misconceptions are ideas that are all tackled by a film that looks like mere escapism but has an understated intellect beneath the glamorous visual firecrackers. This is a slick, stonking, espionage caper that may well have already taken the award for most fun film of 2015. Well done Matthew… again.
Expected Rating: 7
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