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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.

Source: JoBlo.com

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