Note: Originally posted on Vibe Film 5th February 2015.
It’s 11pm, I’ve just gotten out of a screening of “Kingsman: The Secret Service” with a friend and I feel like a child again. I have just had so much fun watching this film, I had a huge grin on my face the entire time, well nearly the entire time, but now I have gathered myself I felt it was time to sit down a write this review. Now, I was always going to have a certain level of bias going into this film, I am a huge fan of Matthew Vaughn. Ever since I first watched Layer Cake I have been thrilled to see whatever he comes up with next, and Kingsman was certainly no disappointment.
The film starts out in 1997, a covert ops mission in the Middle East, secret agents have captured a terrorist but suddenly he reveals a grenade, an agent jumps on the grenade sacrificing himself to save his fellow agents, it is here we meet Harry Hart (Firth) Codename: Galahad, one of the Kingsman Agents, an “Independent International Intelligence Agency operating at the utmost discretion” fast forward 17 years where we meet Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Egerton) the hero of our film. Eggsy is very much your street smart, south London “Lad”, a thief with a heart of gold as it were because for all his flaws, and there are many, he is ultimately a good person.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is very much one of the spy films of yesteryear, think of old James Bond, a smooth, suited gentleman, a plethora of ridiculous gadgets and an over the top villain. But Vaughn livens up the genre bringing it into the modern day and injecting his signature wit and humour, the same you will find in films like Kick-Ass (which like Kingsman, is based on a Mark Millar Comic book). With that wit and humour though it is bound to offend people so for some viewers, they mind find the film somewhat crass or offensive, a key example of this would be an Anal Sex joke, Some may find it hilarious, others just disgusting. That being said the comedy plays in extremely well to the plot. As much as Kingsman is one of the old school spy films it spends a lot of time insulting said films or subverting some of the stereotypes, numerous gags throughout point out how ridiculous things are. In one scene in particular where Firth’s Galahad and Samuel L Jackson’s Valentine are discussing their love of Spy movies, Galahad exclaims “give me an over the top theatrical plot any day” firmly placing the film’s tongue in the audience’s cheek.
But it isn’t only the humour that makes this film. Something that really caught my attention watching the film was the fight scenes, the fight scenes in this film absolutely blew my mind. Each fight is a flurry of insane choreography, bullet time movement, special effects and Gun-Fu blended together so seamlessly, you are just pulled in. The fights are a visceral experience and unlike anything I have ever seen in a film, spy movie, action movie or otherwise, the fight scenes in this film are truly unique and I look forward to seeing more like them. The reason I enjoyed them so much is that each fight places the viewer directly in the middle of things, it is almost as if you are taking part in in them yourself, you follow every punch, kick and gunshot. You witness the madness going on around the scene and you love it, its orchestrated chaos.
As fun as this film was it certainly had its pitfalls. Being that it is a pastiche of the Spy movie, a lot of its humour lies in some of the Spy film stereotypes, this being said there are a lot of modern stereotypes that occur within the film that really took me out of the film. One such example is when one of the Kingsman turns out to be Evil (Gasp) which is followed by a switching of the poisoned drink when the other person isn’t looking (Gasp again) these moments really took me out of the film and took away from an otherwise excellent movie. One more issue I have with the film is I feel I would have liked to have seen a little more interaction between the two leads it would have helped give us a solid relationship in the film due to the lack of a love interest. The lack of love interest is something I praise though in many cases due to the fact that often it is not a necessity and is simply shoehorned in. As far as performance is concerned I can’t really say I was surprised to see anybody in the roles they were playing. Colin Firth played British gentleman to a T as he always does, though it was refreshing to see him in a more action orientated role. Then you have other British mainstays such as Mark Strong and Michael Caine. On the whole performance was nothing breath taking, they did their jobs and I believed them, I just wanted to see a little more.
Back to the positives however. As much as I go on about humour, Vaughn and his crew have an excellent knowledge of when to get serious and just as in Vaughn’s other films it is done extremely well in Kingsman. This turning point happens when a discussion takes place, yet again about the comical nature and absurdity of spy movies, when one character exclaims “This isn’t that kind of movie” and raises the stakes of the film dramatically. I thought this was well done and it seems to be somewhat of a trademark for Vaughn in the way it is done.
I thought the film was a fun romp in the spy world that brought the genre back to audiences that wanted to have a good time at the cinema. Kingsman, is funny, sleek, stylish and most importantly, a good film. I had a thoroughly good time watching it and found myself getting pulled into the film at points almost forgetting I had a review to write. I have been lucky in 2015 to see the films I have so far, I can only hope my luck continues.
Final Verdict: 8/10