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Kingsman: The Secret Service
January 28, 2015
From director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) comes this send-up of ‘60s spy films and the whole genre in general: it’s smart, funny, energetic and a great ride. Whilst suffering from a couple of weak performances and cliché moments, the plot is simple and cleverly executed. Following the adventures of Eggsy (Taron Egerton who is also in theaters with Testament of Youth) from a council house to international spy, Kingsman weaves together satire, ’60s nostalgia and subtle morals of meritocracy and global warming to deliver a spectacularly visual film.
As a huge fan of Kick-Ass (2010) which was itself a send-up of comic book films, I was nervously waiting to see if Vaughn could achieve the same success twice and he really does in the second and third acts of this film. The first one is unfortunately slow and features possibly the worst crying scene I’ve seen in a while. Yet Kingsman steadily becomes more enjoyable and delivers on a spectacularly over-the-top ending.
The story centres around Eggsy’s training under Kingsman spy Harry Hart, played by Colin Firth who looks like he’s enjoyed every second as a gun-toting gentleman spy as much as I did watching him. Eggsy is thrown into an ‘Apprentice’ style interview to join the Kingsman secret service, going through several tests to prove he can stand just as high as the other Oxbridge candidates. There’s a running theme of meritocracy versus the elite and the plot doesn’t make excuses for Eggsy, as put bluntly by Harry when they first meet (“It’s always somebody else’s fault isn’t it?”).
This thematic thread continues in the villain, Richmond Valentine, who started from humble beginnings to become a successful IT Billionaire and has a ludicrously brilliant evil plan in the vein of Blofeld and Goldfinger – there are plenty of James Bond references. Samuel L. Jackson as Richmond delivers a complex performance of comedy and menace, juxtaposing the cruelty of his plan with his fear of blood. It’s a shame he envokes a lisp that honestly isn’t that funny although his ironic joke about the British accent being incomprehensible to Americans did not go unnoticed.
Vaughn shows to have learnt a lot from his experience on Kick-Ass as the action scenes are what makes this film worth watching, especially in theaters, from the car chase to a pub fight, it all has a great sense of style, with liberal amounts of slow-motion punches. There are so many good scenes it’s hard to choose but the ones with Richmond’s henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) are definitely the most imposing.
Gazelle is a double amputee but she doesn’t feel sorry for herself, instead she gets samurai sharp weapons for legs and becomes the most deadly (and graceful) assassin. The action might be too over-the-top but after a while you do get used to seeing the most outlandish stunts.
Kingsman is every child’s dream of becoming a gentleman spy (even if this film is definitely not for children) without being an easy ride. Eggsy works hard and Egerton makes him likable with his performance, aptly capturing the transition from potential street thug to badass spy. The rest of the cast is great throughout, especially smaller roles played by Michael Caine and Mark Hamill. It’s a slow ride before it becomes great with some amazing stand-out moments and a satire on the spy genre that won’t go unnoticed by the fans.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is released in UK cinemas on January 29th
Words by Sunny Ramgolam