These Kingsman Kick A Lot of Ass
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Review by Daniel Rester
Finally, a 2015 film worth a damn. Paddington was cute and all, but everything else to come out this year has been mediocre to bad. Kingsman: The Secret Service, however, is a blast. The film will let you take a break from catching up on stellar 2014 Oscar nominees while also avoiding all of the January release dreck as well.
Kingsman tells of a spy organization of classy but experienced men led by the likes of Arthur (Michael Caine), Merlin (Mark Strong), and Harry (Colin Firth). The veterans look to bring on a new agent, which leads to a young misfit with a past named Eggsy (talented newcomer Taron Egerton) being brought into a Kingsman training program. However, a tech wizard named Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson, using a lisp) may very well be threatening the organization.
Start to finish, director Matthew Vaughn – who previously made Kick-Ass (2010) and X-Men: First Class (2011) – fills Kingsman with energy and cleverness. The script is written by Vaughn himself and Jane Goldman, working from a comic book by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. The writers expertly provide a brisk flow of surprising action storytelling while also delivering on memorable characterizations and witty dialogue (the amount of in-jokes are endless). Vaughn and his cast then bring it all to life with game efforts that pay off.
The film works very well in part that it seamlessly blends old-school spy respectful attitudes with new-school snappiness and vulgarity without ever feeling too wonky. Vaughn’s treatment of the material is a little too wink-wink, bloody, and crass at times, but the majority of the time such delivery can be forgiven in favor of the many moments that do work. However, the handling of the last ten minutes or so does admittedly feel off – bringing in a certain joke that is unnecessary and out of place.
Egerton certainly holds the screen as Eggsy, but it’s Firth and Jackson who are the most fun to watch here. Seeing the usually mellow and gentleman-like Firth smack around some hoodlums with an umbrella is priceless, as is Jackson’s hilarious rendering of a villain who can’t stand the sight of a certain bodily fluid. The rest of the cast shines as well, with Mark Hamill even popping up for a few scenes as a professor.
Vaughn definitely knows how to make badass “guy movies.” He and cinematographer George Richmond give the camera zippy motions in Kingsman while still keeping the audience clear on what’s happening. The awesome gadgets and a unique use of a certain classic rock song are cherries on top to the excellent filmmaking.
Is Kingsman a bit too long, self-indulgent, and ridiculous? Yes. But I must also say that I haven’t seen an action film this well-handled since last spring’s The Raid 2. It’s refreshing that Kingsman also has a big sense of humor. Action junkies won’t want to miss it.
My Score: 3 ½ out of 4 stars (Grade Equivalent for Me: A-).
MPAA Rating: R (for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content).
Runtime: 2 hours and 9 minutes.
U.S. Release Date: February 13th, 2015.