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Kingsman: The Secret Service Review


Wearing it's love of spy movies, the James Bond franchise especially, on it's sleeve, comic book adaption Kingsman: The Secret Service sees the team behind Kick-Ass (the comic's creator Mark Millar, script writer Jane Goldman, and director Matthew Vaughn) apply the same amount of energy, invention, and buckets of gore to the world of sophisticated spies and megalomaniacal villains as they did to the super hero genre. In a movie where a sim card can be weaponised and the villain's henchwoman walks on literal baldes, we follow Harry Hart/Galahad (Colin Firth), a veteran of the ultra secretive espionage outfit Kingsman, who selects troubled young man Eggsy (Taron Egerton) to join the organisation's rigorous training program, despite protests surrounding his protege's middle class background. While Eggsy surprises those around him with his progress, Hart investigates billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), whose drastic attempt to solve global warming will mean death for much of the world's population.

What will strike you most about Kingsman: The Secret Service is just much insane fun it is. Running with the more OTT moments of the Bond series and expertly sending them up, the movie moves at a break neck speed from the opening frame. Even at the points where the movie slows down, it still has a fantastic momentum which carries it forward, punctuating the moments of actual spy work with some breath taking action. From a hard hitting, yet extremely one sided, bar fight to a parachute training exercise with a twist, Vaughn shoots everything with an exciting urgency. But as much giddy fun as these sequences are, there is something subdued about them. This is the trio who brought us the foul mouthed Hit-Girl after all. So it's with the third act in sight, that Vaughn kicks everything into high gear, beginning with a gloriously over the top, seemingly one shot massacre that, as well as challenging your conceptions about one of our heroes, will have you wince and quietly cheer in equal measure. From here, the action is amped up immeasurably, leading to the one man versus an army finale we've come to expect from spy movies, complete with one of the movies many highlights, an extremely surreal slice of colourful ultra violence set wonderfully to Pomp and Circumstance. But as outrageous as the finale is, Vaughn makes a misstep, opting to replace the more practical approach employed in earlier sequences with really noticeable CGI. It isn't movie ruining, but jarring enough to take you out of the action.

The action is perfectly complemented by the movies general tone. With it's tongue firmly in its cheek, Kingsman: The Secret Service not only succeeds in emulating the old school era of spy movies, but it puts its own unique stamp on them. It marches forward with a style all its own, gleefully embracing old school cliches one minute, only to subvert them the next. One noticeable problem is the set up of tensions across the class divide, which is clearly a major part of the story, is mishandled, never really amounting too much, and it's portrayal of the middle classes is made up of hard drinking, anti social stereotypes (though the same can be said of Millar's source material). A slight unevenness in the story rears it's head during the second act, as Eggsy's training seems to dominate too much. As fun as seeing the fiendish tests Kingsman throws his way is, it takes away some what from the sheer joy of seeing Firth's Harry Hart in action. If there ever was a man to play a sophisticated super spy, it was Firth, and you can clearly see he is relishing the opportunity, throwing a cheeky smile one minute, a snappy put down (usually followed by a right hook) the next. He captures the humour perfectly, pretty much the picture of an old school spy before cinema dictated that all intelligence agents needed to be gritty and dour. He even proves himself quite the action man, especially in the aforementioned massacre, where all thoughts of Mr. Darcy are thrown out the window as he slices and dices his way through a seemingly endless supply of fodder.

Beyond Firth, the rest of the cast handle themselves nicely. Egerton is immensely likable as our everyman, echoing our own reactions as things take a turn for the outrageous, and . As Valentine, Samuel L. Jackson is a fun villain, armed with a quirky speech impediment and hilarious aversion to violence, though he is often over shadowed by his much more interesting henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), who uses the razor sharp blades she has for feet to fantastic effect. Michael Caine and Mark Strong show up as the head of Kingsman and gadget master respectively, and they play their roles to a tee, and not much of a sweat being broken by both men.

Some unevenness in the narrative doesn't stop Kingsman: The Secret Service from being an over the top, energetic, and absolutely insane ride, and one you should definitely take.

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The Movie Bit: Kingsman: The Secret Service Review
Kingsman: The Secret Service Review
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