‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ Review
One of the best things that can be said about the films of the Millar, Goldman and Vaughn trio is that they are incredibly entertaining, and despite original skepticism, Kingsman: The Secret Service delivers every bit of the trio’s unique action style that is engaging and fun from start to finish. Kingsman oozes with that comic book tone that makes it a Mark Millar spy thriller, and even with a story that is a bit predictable, the film never fails to make us laugh, gasp, and cheer as Vaughn and Goldman turn Millar’s story into one of the most energetic action films ever. It is new, pegging itself as “not that kind of movie” while simultaneously paying homage to the old time spy movies that have inspired it, and every aspect of Kingsman works brilliantly. It is Tarantino meets James Bond meets Kick-Ass, a perfect combination in the right hands.
Eggsy (Taron Egerton) doesn’t have much going for him since his dad was killed, but when Harry Hart (Colin Firth) gets him out of a police holding cell, Eggsy is given a second chance. Harry introduces him to the Kingsmen, a private, secret spy organization that adhere to the gentlemen’s code, the organization that his father died for. Eggsy is Harry’s candidate to take the place of a fallen Kingsman, and in order to join, the young upstart will be put through the most grueling training program ever, competing with the other candidates for one spot. As Eggsy works to prove himself, the Kingsmen have an evil mastermind kidnapping the rich and powerful in the name of saving the world from climate change, but billionaire Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) is more devious and deadly than first thought.
The story of Kingsman has everything that makes it an entertaining spy thriller with comic book tones, those tones that Millar is so good at bringing to life and making universal. There really is nothing better than the story of a young troublemaker who becomes paired with a mentor/father figure to become something better while bringing in his own swagger. The film’s story is very recognizable, and because of this it is a bit predictable, but every piece of dialogue, character detail, and it’s individual style overcome its predictability, and it becomes an element that is overlooked because of the unique voice that Millar and Goldman bring to the film.
Nothing about Kingsman is boring, overly predictable, or not enjoyable, and this is not only down to the tone. The voice of the film reminds us of the way that Quentin Tarantino writes his dialogue. Goldman and Vaughn’s script is very organic while skating the line of being over the top; it is creative, clever, and above all else it is funny and engrossing while excluding all elements of any cheese factor that could have dragged the film into silliness. A lot of the outrageous premise’s success on screen stems from the very real world base for the story, working very much in the same way that Kick-Ass brought superheroes into our real world. This real world base is the perfect foundation that allows for the Inglourious Basterds type of craziness that creates the films’ colorful, hilarious climax to hit its mark, and it completely works.
The performances from all the cast members are perfect for the film, and they create the characters to perfection. Colin Firth cuts an image of gentlemanly poise enclosing a kick ass spy with an attitude and something to prove. He carries himself as only he can, and he delivers both his heartfelt and ridiculous lines brilliantly, taking over every scene he is in. Firth is matched toe to toe with newcomer Taron Egerton who effortlessly pulls off the rough edges of Eggsy as well as the dashing super spy he eventually becomes. He is funny, endearing, and plays every facet of his role with ease while exuding the necessary gravitas that he needed to stand strong alongside his all star cast mates. Mr. Samuel L. Jackson is flawlessly quirky yet diabolical, bringing the perfect humor to his Bond like super villain without going over the top, and Mark Strong brilliantly rounds out the main cast with his ballsy techie intelligence head, Merlin. The whole cast knew the type of film they were setting out to make, and they made it all the more enjoyable.
It is in the creative trio’s unique style that Kingsman visually comes alive, and nothing is more Matthew Vaughn than the incredible fight sequences. Whereas many other fight scenes rely on tight cinematography usually resulting in shaky camera work, Kingsman shows ‘em how it’s done with an inexplicable beauty, a word not normally associated with blood-spilling martial arts. The fight sequences are shot very similarly to those from Kick-Ass: steadicam that provides close up but simultaneously smooth visual precision that allows us to see every take down in detail. The editing team gives each one the unique look that includes shakes without compromising the visual integrity of each shot, and it makes the fights and explosions some of the most exciting pieces of the whole film. The filmmaking of the entire film carries this same smooth precision throughout, and it is Vaughn’s desire for us to be able to see his characters in everything they do – whether they are jumping out of a plane in flight suits and oxygen helmets or trying out new hardware in a well lit tailoring room – that helps us connect with them beyond the actors’ performances. Kingsman is smooth and beautifully produced, and perfect combination of violence and beauty.
When Matthew Vaughn left Days of Future Past for this film, it left us scratching our heads, especially when the film got pushed back from a fall 2014 release date. We needn’t have worried, as Kingsman is exactly the quality of film that we expect from Vaughn and his team. Kingsman is the perfect combination of spy thriller and adventure comedy, James Bond with Kick-Ass’ script dusted with a bit of Tarantino, and it is fabulous. It’s always a good sign when this kind of film makes us want to stand up and cheer when a particularly violent death occurs within the scape of a colorful lighting palette, and Kingsman does this and more, but more than anything it is simply an enjoyable, fun, entertaining film and a must see for fans of Millar and Vaughn.(4.5 / 5)
(Photos copyright: Twentieth Century Fox, Marv Films)