Mark Millar and Matthew Vaughn made something of a dream-team last time round. Five years ago Vaughn adapted Millar’s graphic novel, ‘Kick Ass’ into a movie that shook up the superhero genre. This time round the two worked together to create the idea of ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’, before Vaughn gave it the big-screen treatment, and it’s the kick up the backside the spy film genre needs.
Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton), a teenager growing up on a rough estate with his mum and abusive stepdad, finds out that his late dad was a member of the Kingsman, an elite group of spies whose hub is in a tailors of the same name.
Kingsman member Harry, (Colin Firth), takes him under his wing and introduces him to the fold. Firth is excellent as Harry, a refined gentleman who can batter the life out of a gang of thugs before sitting down to enjoy a nice pint of Guinness and Taron Egerton plays working-class hero Eggsy to perfection; laugh-out-loud funny but never dumb.
Samuel L Jackson is part comedy character, part villain, as Valentine; an eccentric billionaire with a lisp and a penchant for garish tracksuits and McDonalds. Valentine’s evil scheme takes a while, maybe too long, to make itself clear but eventually you find out it involves SIM cards and global warming. In a film involving bulletproof umbrellas, it says something that the villain and his plot to destroy the world are the most improbable part of the story. Nonetheless, it’s up to the members of Kingsman to stop the megalomaniac in his tracks.
If you watched Kick Ass you’ll be familiar with the massive amounts of violence to expect. If you’re a bit squeamish you may find yourself watching part of the films through your fingers, but if you can stomach it, look out for the scene in a church. They’ve pushed the envelope pretty much as far as you can go whilst being rated 15.
This film is whip-smart and self-aware. It takes the mick out of spy films, but you don’t have to be a James Bond buff to get the references or laugh at the jokes. There’s even a bit where Harry and Valentine chat about their favourite spy movies, and towards the end a scene with a Swedish princess pretty much pokes fun at the Bond-girl clichés that have been trotted out over the years.
It also touches on some important themes; there’s the sentimental but nice shtick about how being a gentlemen is based on your actions rather than your accent, and it’s also refreshing to see a movie that doesn’t demonise people living in rough areas; after all the guy who saves the world resides in Peckham.
‘Kingsman: the Secret Service’ is not really a movie driven by plot, there are a couple of twists but they don’t change things much. It is, however, an absolute riot of a film; Hollywood in its impressive visuals but British in its humour (bar Jackson’s hammy performance). Overall it’s as smart and sharp as the suits in the Kingsman’s tailors. A must-see.