Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) Movie Review

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Originally a comic book by Mark Millar (who wrote Kick-Ass) and Dave Gibbons (who illustrated Alan Moore’s Watchmen), Kingsman: The Secret Service is a comic book film directed by Matthew Vaughn, who also directed the movie version of Kick Ass.  To suggest coincidence that the creators of both materials seem closely linked is…very understandable.  But we’re not here to talk about the comic book, because I haven’t read it.  So lets talk strictly about the film.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is an espionage/spy, action adventure, coming-of-age comedy about a young man named Gary Unwin (played by Taron Egerton), who is known as Eggsy by everyone else.  His father was a Kingsman, a type of James Bond who was killed in action when he was a tiny child.  After news of his father’s death, he and his mother were given a pendant, a phone number and a password to use by 1 of his father’s colleagues, a fellow Kingsman agent named Harry Hart (played by Colin Firth), offering a favour to the family of his friend.  17 years after his father’s death, Eggsy is now a product of his environment.  He dresses like a stereotypical chav (although the character doesn’t act full-blown, more like halfway there), is unemployed, and his mother is now married to a truly nasty man who likes to terrorise his loved 1s.  After getting busted for stealing the car of someone he doesn’t like, he decides to contact the Kingsman, mostly as an attempted get-out-of-jail-free card, but it ends up placing him in a new position in life.  Harry Hart offers him an opportunity to join his team, leading to a set of challenges that make Agent J’s Men In Black challenges look like someone learning how to make toast.  Meanwhile, Samuel L Jackson plays our main villain, a multi-millionaire with a lisp named Richmond Valentine who offers free phone and internet services through microchips, with evil intentions built in (of course).  What does he plan to do with these things?  You’ll have to watch the film to see.

Now we break down the film:  The acting in Kingsman is incredibly good, particularly when you consider some of the names in the cast.  The leader of the Kingsmen is Arthur, played by Michael Caine (rather predictable but excellent choice).  Colin Firth has never looked more bad-ass in his entire career as Harry Hart (possibly even stealing the show) as he does most of his own stunts and action scenes.  Samuel L Jackson was great fun as the villain Richmond Valentine by seemingly playing a very different role to what he can do easily (however, Jackson pointed out that he did have a lisp that he had to overcome earlier in his life.  Whether he brought it back for the role is another question).  Mark Strong once again appears in a Matthew Vaughn film as Merlin, the geek member of the secret service, and Mark Hamill plays a small role as Professor James Arnold who apparently went missing but has reappeared.  Taron Egerton does a very good job, but I’m not sure if he makes the most convincing chav.  It’s good, but I think he plays a Kingsman agent better than a chav.  Then, you have Sofia Boutella as Gazelle, Richmond Valentine’s bodyguard.  She is genuinely amazing!  Why?  Because this was 1 Bond Villain Henchman that hadn’t been thought up yet that would truly work.  With Sofia herself being a break dancer, and her character having these prosthetic legs that are basically swords shaped like Oscar Pistorius’ running blades, her fight scenes are spectacular!

The characters in Kingsman are great fun too, and they are helped by the well chosen cast (especially from Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Samuel L Jackson and Sofia Boutella).  On top of this, Eggsy’s stepdad, Dean, is a truly monstrous human being who is played very well by an actor named Geoff Bell.  He’s so good at portraying a bully that he really does add to any anger you might have towards the character, and gain sympathy for both Eggsy and his unfortunate mother.

The music is fantastic!  Not only in a set-the-scene way, but for pure comedic genius!  Lets just say they found a great way to use “Money For Nothing” by Dire Straits, “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and “Pomp and Circumstance” and Edward Elgar…especially Pomp and Circumstance, how they use it in this film is magnificent!

As weird as it sounds, the story and the CGI might be the weakest thing about this film.  I thoroughly enjoyed it for its action scenes, characters and comedy, but the actual story seemed a little unfocused at times.  I found myself not necessarily following it, but just enjoying the content that was placed on top.  It also had the occasional plot hole here and there, such as how Eggsy is able to remember the phone number and password to the Secret Service when it was told to his evidently distraught mother and not him.  Nothing was written down for him to memorise it, and he was a 3 or 4 year old child at the time who is expected to remember these things when he’s in his early 20s.  It made little sense and had little justification.

The CGI also has some inconsistent qualities, it works incredibly well for the hand-to-hand combat scenes and comedic violence, but not so much from the bigger explosions.  Which is fine.

The locations and design work are all really well chosen and produced. The action scenes in Kingsman are also fantastic, mostly sped up a little bit with great, brutal and comedic editing mixed in and a fair bit of violence.  I’ve also said it before, You might never see Colin Firth look more cool in a film again…unless he does another film as the character.

Would I recommend Kingsman: The Secret Service?  Definitely!  I had a lot of fun watching this.  It made me imagine that this was like a British version of Agents Of SHIELD.  It’s better than Kick Ass (in my opinion) and it was well worth it.

Story: ***1/2

Acting: ****1/2

Characters: ****3/4

Music: *****

Cinematography: ****3/4

Editing: ****1/2

Action: ****3/4

Humour: ****1/2

CGI: ***3/4

Design: *****

Overall Rating: ****3/4 out of 5

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