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Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service
02.12.2015
9 10
kingsman the secret service logoRead Eric Walkuski's review here!

PLOT: Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is a Kingsman – an independent network of stuffy British secret agents who fancy themselves as the descendants of King Arthur and the knights of the round table. When one of their members is killed, Harry is instructed by his superior, Arthur (Michael Caine) to recruit a new potential agent. His thoughts turn to Eggsy (Taron Egerton) an unemployed hooligan who happens to be the son of a former candidate. Harry puts the unpolished young man through training, while simultaneously contending with a computer billionaire (Samuel L. Jackson) with a monomaniacal plan to take over the world.

REVIEW: KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE feels like the movie Matthew Vaughn's been aching to make his whole career. It has the scope of his own X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, the insanity and ultra-violence of KICK-ASS, and the edge of LAYER CAKE, mixed in with a healthy dose of nostalgia for a bygone type of spy film, specifically the Roger Moore Bond's of the seventies and eighties. In some ways, this is a gonzo, James Bond version of FIRST CLASS. Sounds good, right? It sure is.

kingsman the secret service colin firth

Naturally, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE is strictly tongue-in-cheek, even more so than previous Mark Millar adaptations like KICK-ASS and WANTED. It probably would be impossible to update the Moore-era Bonds and not make it some kind of satire (it could be argued the movies themselves were self-parody). Vaughn's casting is absolutely perfect. At fifty-four, this is Firth's first action movie, but his ultra-unflappable spy with a permanently arched eyebrow is the perfect tip of the top-hat to Moore, whose Bond is often mocked for his age (sacrilege!). Firth makes a surprisingly agile hero, with the ultra-complex action sequences being choreographed and shot in a way that it's clear Firth must be doing more (Moore?) of his own fighting than any modern movie-star action hero outside of Keanu Reeves in JOHN WICK (I hope this is the start of a new trend). He gets the movie's two signature action sequences, including a pub scrap with some cheeky chavs, and an absolutely draw-dropping orgy of violence set in a church, memorably scored to Lynard Skynard's 'Freebird' which seems destined to become a classic action movie moment.

kingsman the secret service taron egerton

At the same time though, Firth is more of a supporting player, with KINGSMAN really being the origin story for a distinctly modern super-spy, Taron Egerton's Eggsy. This bit of casting really makes the movie, with Egerton being a real find. His transition from Danny Dyer-type ruffian to dashing superspy is superb, and there's a bit with a lady-in-peril scored to Brian Ferry's 'Slave to Love' that would have good ol' Sir Rog nod his head in approval. He's absolutely smashing in the part. Mark Strong also plays beautifully against type as the Kingsman equivalent to Q (naturally named Merlin) who winds up paying a very nice homage to Desmond Llewelyn through some of his interactions with Egerton in the climax.

Of course, a spy yarn is only as good as its villain, and it's worth saying that Samuel L. Jackson's Valentine is probably better than about 70% of the post-Moore-era Bond villains. It's awfully nice to see a proper megalomaniac with a sexy henchwoman at the helm. Lest you take him too seriously, Jackson speaks with a funny lisp, and says things like “dope-ass suit.” Like Egerton, Firth and Strong, he's ideal. The only cast member who doesn't really get much to work with is Sophie Cookson as a somewhat underused lady-Kingsman (kingswoman?) although God-willing there will be a sequel where maybe she'll get let in on the fun a little more (again, Moore?). Another thing, as much as I love Michael Caine (who's a God) it feels like a crime that Roger Moore didn't play Arthur, although maybe that would have been too obvious. Still, with the Kingsman trademark being Harry Palmer-style tortoise-shell specs, it's appropriate casting. Again, hopefully there will be a sequel where Moore can be involved somehow. Vaughn's use of music is also exceptional here, with the aforementioned 'Freebird', 'Slave to Love', some good K.C & the Sunshine Band, and Harry Jackman's John Barry-tinged score. The soundtrack is perfection.

kingsman the secret service colin firth taron egerton

For me, KINGSMAN is the best thing Vaughn's done since LAYER CAKE, and considering how much I liked both FIRST CLASS and KICK ASS that's pretty high praise from my end. I haven't been this entertained by a large-scale action blockbuster since GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, and between the upcoming MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE 5, SPECTRE, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E and this, 2015 is starting to feel like a second golden age of the spy. Give me another five KINGSMAN movies and I'll be happy.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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2:22AM on 02/15/2015
Just got back...it was fucking spectacular in ever sense of the word!
Just got back...it was fucking spectacular in ever sense of the word!
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+0
1:20PM on 02/14/2015

Fantastic Movie

I hope people go out and watch this movie. We need more fun R-rated movies like this. I watched this in South Korea and the theatre was packed so I hope that's a good sign of things to come. I cannot wait to see the Unrated version of this movie.
I hope people go out and watch this movie. We need more fun R-rated movies like this. I watched this in South Korea and the theatre was packed so I hope that's a good sign of things to come. I cannot wait to see the Unrated version of this movie.
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5:50AM on 02/14/2015

Mostly agree

This movie was certainly fun to watch, and the reviewer is correct on most points, however there was just something about this film that makes me feel like a rating of 9 is a little high. For starters, the CG is distractingly cartoonish, and the action sequences rely heavily on CG, so most of the action comes off as distractingly cartoonish, and pulled me out of the movie. Things like that work for a film like say Scott Pilgrim, but not in this one. Also, while the action sequences are, again,
This movie was certainly fun to watch, and the reviewer is correct on most points, however there was just something about this film that makes me feel like a rating of 9 is a little high. For starters, the CG is distractingly cartoonish, and the action sequences rely heavily on CG, so most of the action comes off as distractingly cartoonish, and pulled me out of the movie. Things like that work for a film like say Scott Pilgrim, but not in this one. Also, while the action sequences are, again, well choreographed and fun, there's something about the way they're shot that makes them feel fake. It's very stylized, which is fine, but the style stands out awkwardly due to what felt like improper lighting, color correcting and blending in a movie shot in digital format. Again, this worked for say Kick Ass, which is supposed to be "comic booky", but for a sleek, stylish yet campy spy film, it stands out like a sore thumb and pulls you out of the action. For these reasons, I think a few points need to be deducted, making a score of 6 or 7 more realistic. If we were going based on a 5 star system, i would give it a 3, maybe 3 and a half. Slightly better than average, but not by that much. In fact, if not for the aforementioned excellent performances, this could have easily descended into "generic straight to Netflix action flick with a generous budget" territory.

But that's just one humble man's opinion. I still very much recommend seeing it.
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+1
1:22AM on 02/13/2015
Loved it. Just so much fun to watch. Probably one of those I will buy on dvd when it comes out.
Loved it. Just so much fun to watch. Probably one of those I will buy on dvd when it comes out.
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+2
2:11PM on 02/12/2015

Sweet

Bumbray is reliable for me in his reviews, so I am officially stoked for this. Really hoping this does well to possibly help Deadpool get an R rated movie
Bumbray is reliable for me in his reviews, so I am officially stoked for this. Really hoping this does well to possibly help Deadpool get an R rated movie
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11:39AM on 02/12/2015

GREAT review, as usual Bumbray!

Matthew Vaughn dropped Days of Future Past in favor of this, so it's awesome to know that such a sacrifice was worth it. The TV spots I saw for this kind of worried me, because they didn't really sell how tongue-in-cheek it was. After seeing a few of the trailers and reading this review, I'm so amped to see this tonight. Seriously looking forward to seeing something special.
Matthew Vaughn dropped Days of Future Past in favor of this, so it's awesome to know that such a sacrifice was worth it. The TV spots I saw for this kind of worried me, because they didn't really sell how tongue-in-cheek it was. After seeing a few of the trailers and reading this review, I'm so amped to see this tonight. Seriously looking forward to seeing something special.
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10:29AM on 02/12/2015
So happy this is getting good reviews. It looks amazing from the trailers, I was worried the actual product would be a bust. Guess not! I'm definitely checking this one out on the weekend.
So happy this is getting good reviews. It looks amazing from the trailers, I was worried the actual product would be a bust. Guess not! I'm definitely checking this one out on the weekend.
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9:46AM on 02/12/2015

Glad to read...

That this film is amazing because I intended on seeing it opening night.
That this film is amazing because I intended on seeing it opening night.
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9:19AM on 02/12/2015
This review has me pumped! Can't wait.
This review has me pumped! Can't wait.
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8:44AM on 02/12/2015

Expected this..

But awesome to read it truly lives up to the hype! I was pretty bummed when this got pushed back.. but definitely sounds worth the wait! My ticket's bought!
But awesome to read it truly lives up to the hype! I was pretty bummed when this got pushed back.. but definitely sounds worth the wait! My ticket's bought!
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6:43AM on 02/12/2015
Can't wait to see it! It's not Firth's first action role by the way, he played a roman swordfighter in The Last Legion. He even got to go all Errol Flynn/Jack Sparrow with Aishwaria Rai herself.
Can't wait to see it! It's not Firth's first action role by the way, he played a roman swordfighter in The Last Legion. He even got to go all Errol Flynn/Jack Sparrow with Aishwaria Rai herself.
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+2
5:57AM on 02/12/2015

"Vaughn's use of music is also exceptional here"

Actually, his use of music is always exceptional.
Layer Cake, Sturdust, Kick-Ass, First Class, Kingsman - Vaughn is now one of my favourite directors.
Actually, his use of music is always exceptional.
Layer Cake, Sturdust, Kick-Ass, First Class, Kingsman - Vaughn is now one of my favourite directors.
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5:36AM on 02/12/2015
I really, REALLY hope millions and millions of Americans see this film.
I've never wanted a sequel more!!!
I really, REALLY hope millions and millions of Americans see this film.
I've never wanted a sequel more!!!
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5:07AM on 02/12/2015
"For me, KINGSMAN is the best thing Vaughn's done since LAYER CAKE" - if that's the case, that is way beyond my expectation for this movie. I've really got to see it.
"For me, KINGSMAN is the best thing Vaughn's done since LAYER CAKE" - if that's the case, that is way beyond my expectation for this movie. I've really got to see it.
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5:02AM on 02/12/2015
I love this movie.Seen it twice with a very high chance of watching again this weekend .Colin Firth do a Liam Neeson and go action star,career wise.The scene in the church is the best action scene of the year,lock it in,it`s an insanely awesome set piece,'hail satan".
I love this movie.Seen it twice with a very high chance of watching again this weekend .Colin Firth do a Liam Neeson and go action star,career wise.The scene in the church is the best action scene of the year,lock it in,it`s an insanely awesome set piece,'hail satan".
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5:37AM on 02/12/2015
100% agree. Church/"Freebird" scene was pure brilliance.
100% agree. Church/"Freebird" scene was pure brilliance.
4:20AM on 02/12/2015
Saw it a couple of weeks ago, loved it.
Saw it a couple of weeks ago, loved it.
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3:51AM on 02/12/2015

meh

Saw this at the weekend, was ok nothing special a 7 at best.
Saw this at the weekend, was ok nothing special a 7 at best.
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4:12AM on 02/12/2015
Totally disagree! This movie was a lot of fun.
Totally disagree! This movie was a lot of fun.
5:06AM on 02/12/2015
I dontbthink it wasn't fun but its not a 9.
I dontbthink it wasn't fun but its not a 9.
11:34AM on 02/12/2015
MMR, at least your honest about it. Everyone hear seems to gloss over the film's errors and accept this movie wholeheartedly
MMR, at least your honest about it. Everyone hear seems to gloss over the film's errors and accept this movie wholeheartedly
11:35AM on 02/12/2015
Okay, I officially don't understand how other people rank movies. On a scale of 1-10, 7 would be GREAT in my book. 1-3 would be downright awful, 4-6 would be below average to mediocre, 7-8 would be great, and 9-10 would be almost perfect to absolutely perfect. Personally I just don't get how calling it a 7 out of 10 would be "meh" or "ok nothing special".
Okay, I officially don't understand how other people rank movies. On a scale of 1-10, 7 would be GREAT in my book. 1-3 would be downright awful, 4-6 would be below average to mediocre, 7-8 would be great, and 9-10 would be almost perfect to absolutely perfect. Personally I just don't get how calling it a 7 out of 10 would be "meh" or "ok nothing special".
12:23PM on 02/12/2015

SauronsBANE- I stil prefer the 1 to 4 star rating, rather than this 1 to 10 or 5 star rating scale.
The 1 to 10 rating should go like so.
10= This could not only be the best film of year, but end up on the list of "great" movies that forever changed cinema and should never be forgotten, like The Godfather.
9= One of the best films of the year, nearly flawless, filled with talent, thought, best in filmmaking.
8= A really good to great movie, B+/A- grade.
7= Solid film, entertaining,

SauronsBANE- I stil prefer the 1 to 4 star rating, rather than this 1 to 10 or 5 star rating scale.
The 1 to 10 rating should go like so.
10= This could not only be the best film of year, but end up on the list of "great" movies that forever changed cinema and should never be forgotten, like The Godfather.
9= One of the best films of the year, nearly flawless, filled with talent, thought, best in filmmaking.
8= A really good to great movie, B+/A- grade.
7= Solid film, entertaining, good, and fun. B grade
6= Mildly entertaining, could've been better but it was good for what was there. B-/C+ grade
5= Was not bad, but was not good. A little disappointing.
4= Not worth seeing. Misfire. May have excelled in some areas, but suffered greatly in others
3= Bad, just bad. It's on the cover of "Snoozeweek" and Yawn Magazine".
2= Really awful, no talent here or attempted to make a movie.
1= Sucked and insulting, It's already on my list of the worst films of the year
0= This movie sucks so bad it should never see the light of day.
12:37PM on 02/12/2015
Trav, I actually really like that rating system. Makes perfect sense. Personally I try to stick with a 5 star rating or 1 to 10, but I definitely understand your reasoning.
Trav, I actually really like that rating system. Makes perfect sense. Personally I try to stick with a 5 star rating or 1 to 10, but I definitely understand your reasoning.
3:43AM on 02/12/2015
Had my doubts since I am not familiar with the material but the awesome trailers & early buzz have me convinced to see this movie. Looks to be the first great film of of an already expected good 2015.
Had my doubts since I am not familiar with the material but the awesome trailers & early buzz have me convinced to see this movie. Looks to be the first great film of of an already expected good 2015.
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2:11AM on 02/12/2015
Glad to read the positive review. Film looks fun, fresh, and sleek as hell.

Hope it does well enough to warrant a sequel or two.
Glad to read the positive review. Film looks fun, fresh, and sleek as hell.

Hope it does well enough to warrant a sequel or two.
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1:42AM on 02/12/2015
I absolutely loved this film. Had me smiling from start to finish.

Just wish Tarion Edgerton had been cast as Cyclops now!

They better make sequels for this. I've already made space in my dvd collection.
I absolutely loved this film. Had me smiling from start to finish.

Just wish Tarion Edgerton had been cast as Cyclops now!

They better make sequels for this. I've already made space in my dvd collection.
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