Kingsman: The Secret Service

Genre: Action

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Screenplay: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, based on the comic book “The Secret Service” by Mark Milar, Dave Gibbons

Cast: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Sophie Cookson, Jack Davenport, Mark Hamill, Sofia Boutella, Edward Holcroft, Jack Cutmore-Scott, Geoff Bell, Samantha Womack, Michael Caine

Running Length: 129 minutes

Synopsis: Based upon the acclaimed comic book and directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class), the film tells the story of a suave, old-school British superspy who recruits an unrefined but promising street kid into his agency’s ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted American entrepreneur.

Review: For those who think that James Bond is too stuffy for them, Kingsman is here to the rescue. Taking the British spy thriller genre and spinning it on its head, Vaughn has managed to create one of the most entertaining comic book adaptations and spy movies I have seen in a while. Yes, the plot is absurd and stretches plausibility to breaking point, but it’s a very enjoyable movie to sit through (with a caveat – more on that later), with slick, polished visuals and a great sense of style and humour. It also establishes Colin Firth – surprise, surprise – as a bona fide action movie star, reminiscent of what Taken managed to do for Liam Neeson’s career.

Kingsman does not pretend to be anything else than a glossily packaged spy movie parody, but unlike many parodies, it is a top notch production while wearing its intentions proudly on its immaculately tailored sleeve. Newcomer Taron Egerton is highly charismatic and likably cocky, a perfect fit as the fledging spy-in-training under Colin Firth’s wing. Firth manages to show off a hitherto unseen action hero skill set while remaining impeccably coiffed in his suit. They are ably complemented by a strong ensemble cast, with Samuel L. Jackson stealing the limelight (as he’s prone to do) as a lisping megalomaniac with a strange aversion to blood, and special mention going to Algerian dancer Sophie Boutella as an updated Oddjob (known aptly as Gazelle here), brandishing the coolest killer prosthetic legs I’ve ever seen.

Audiences who have seen Vaughn’s Kick-Ass would be aware that he is not one to shy away from violence, and there is certainly a lot of near-gratuitous violence to be found in Kingsman. The hyperviolence is not for all audiences, and there will be some viewers who may feel it’s a bit too much (the church sequence – no spoilers – can particularly be rather disturbing, even if one takes it purely at face value). The plot makes no sense whatsoever, more at home in the Austin Powers franchise than the Bond franchise, but if one is willing to go along for the ride and not take things too seriously, it is a thrilling, highly entertaining movie well worth its price of admission.

Rating: * * * (out of four stars)

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