A veteran secret agent takes a young upstart under his wing.
Based on a Mark Millar comic book, ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ is terrific, over the top fun, and it feels like a throwback to the spy films of the past before everything got that little bit more serious. Directed by Matthew Vaughn, no stranger to Mark Millar adaptations (after ‘Kick-Ass’) or comic book movies (after ‘X-Men: First Class‘), the film has a distinct visual flair and it’s stylishly shot. The film has all the hallmarks of the classic Bond movies, from an eccentric villain to an array of cool gadgets, and Vaughn’s light touch behind the camera contributes to an entertaining and well told caper.
Early on, we are introduced to Harry Hart (Colin Firth), an experienced member of the undercover spy organisation ‘Kingsman’, an elite group of spies who operate secretly from a high class tailoring outlet in London. The ‘Kingsman’ are brought together by their command (Michael Caine), after one of their own is killed in the line of duty, with each member of the organisation tasked with finding a suitable replacement for their deceased colleague. Circumstances align to bring Hart in touch with Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a troublesome youth whose father was a former ‘Kingsman’ agent who died protecting Hart many years ago. Eggsy, and the other candidates, are put through their paces with a variety of tasks designed to test intelligence, problem solving, bravery and loyalty amongst others to assess their suitability to join the elite organisation. Initially Eggsy struggles to rise to the challenge, but over time the young recruit begins to show his worth and Egerton grows into the role well as the character develops from the street kid to the suave spy.
These scenes are a lot of fun and are an excellent way to introduce us to some of the other key players in the film, from Mark Strong’s instructor, to Sophie Cookson’s feisty Roxy. Whilst this is going on, eccentric billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) is devising a plan to conquer the world, and Hart is tasked with looking into his actions. Jackson’s Valentine is an intriguing creation, a seemingly amiable guy who speaks with a lisp and detests violence, and it’s clear Jackson is having a ball playing him. He’s undoubtedly a caricature, and despite enjoying Jackson’s performance a lot, I felt we could have done with the character in smaller doses. Colin Firth is excellent as Eggsy’s mentor, imbuing his character with heart and determination, and Mark Strong manages to pull off a rarity in cinematic terms, a solid Scottish accent!
Of course this is based on a Mark Millar comic, so there is of course some unnecessary vulgarity and excessively brutal depictions of violence, but Matthew Vaughn (who kept his script in check with ‘Kick-Ass‘) tames it well and manages to find the right balance. Out of all the director’s currently operating at the moment, Vaughn is now three for three in terms of comic book movies and he has shown an uncanny knack for bringing the visual style of a comic to life on the big screen.
‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ is a super spy movie, very funny throughout with an entertaining and ridiculous plot directed with style and flair. Recommended.
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, Sofia Boutella, Mark Strong, Sophie Cookson, Jack Davenport and Mark Hamill