Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Harking back to a bygone era of spy cinema, Matthew Vaughn’s fifth film provides giddy espionage thrills with a self-aware, ultraviolent twist.

Loosely based on Mark Millar’s 2012 comic book series, The Secret Service, it’s the feel good about maximum carnage film of the year.kingsman-secret-service-trailer-breakdown-17In the same vein as Kick-Ass, Vaughn has crafted another barmy, foul-mouthed piece of rabble-rousing cinema that nonetheless comes from an affectionate place. It celebrates the glorious excesses of spies on screen. As such there are locked and loaded umbrellas, mountain lairs, and the know-how required to make a Martini is a job necessity.

Openly referencing the likes of Trading Places and My Fair Lady to cement its meta sensibilities, it also boasts a nice line in not letting your circumstances define you.  Beneath the amoral thrills lies a warm hearted nature.kingsman-secret-service

The pairing of Colin Firth and Taron Egerton is crucial to these good vibes. It’s reminiscent of the winning chemistry shared by cdn.indiewire.comTommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in Men in Black, where another seen it all veteran takes a street smart kid with potential under his tutelage.

As Harry Hart, Firth revels in the role of a debonair action hero executing stylish vengeance on a group of thugs who interrupt his pint. Limbs and furniture are all fair game for breaking, but the rules of etiquette are certainly not. Egerton as Eggsy asserts himself just as well as the joyrider with a heart, learning to channel his talents in a positive way.

It’s a shame then that the plot soon conspires to separate the SamJacksontwo, but the rest of the cast provide plenty to like. Samuel L. Jackson’s lisping villain yearns for the good old days of spy flicks when schemes were diabolical and puns were exchanged like phone numbers between the best of enemies.

kingsman-the-secret-service-image-6Sophie Cookson is easy to root for as Eggsy’s fellow trainee, while Mark Strong affects a Scottish burr as the Kingsmen organisation’s Kingsman-The-Secret-Service-wristwatchesequivalent of Q. There’s also a fun cameo that will excite fans of the source material.

The whole thing’s a blast from start to finish if you don’t mind a little blood splatter on your popcorn. Bond has a license to kill, but this film has one for overkill. From the opening seconds, subtlety is on the receiving end of a helicopter gunship as a raid on a Middle Eastern stronghold ensues with Dire Straits’ ‘Money for Nothing’ blaring in the background.kingsman-secret-service-2Kingsman is very much Kick-Ass’s well-dressed sibling as teeth are sent flying, body parts are sliced and diced, and heads explode in a manner approaching artistry. A proponent of kinetic film making beyond the realms of any mere sugar rush, Vaughn risks causing the camera serious harm as it pitches it slap-bang in the middle of a church brawl of video game levels of insanity. Listen closely and you may be able to make out a few audience members scribbling letters of complaint in the dark.

KSS_JB_D24_02429.CR2For those longing for a maverick slice of spy-fi, Vaughn has served up something that swaggers away from an explosion, adjusts its cufflinks, and drops an F-bomb at the same time. Even if the plot fails to maintain its sharpness, Kingsman doesn’t let up with its eye-frazzling choreography, near the knuckle humour, and sheer enjoyment factor.

Andrew MacGregor

Andrew is a cinema fanatic, film review pedlar, and grizzled pub quiz veteran. Having watched The Big Lebowski a worrying number of times, he has learned that the solution to all of life's problems is to go bowling. You can follow him on the Twitter device @_AndyMacGregor.