I love this movie so much that I’m not even sure where to start.
Ostensibly, Kingsman: The Secret Service is the story of young Eggsy (Taron Egerton), who is plucked from a life of delinquency by Harry Hart (Colin Firth). Hart is a Kingsman, a member of an elite espionage organisation founded by gentlemen in every sense of the word.
Eggsy’s been handpicked to take part in “the most dangerous job interview in the world”, and has to prove to Arthur (Michael Caine) and Merlin (Mark Strong) that he is worthy enough to join their ranks.
Meanwhile, tech genius Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) believes mankind is a virus that is reducing our planet to a shell, and that the only solution to this is mass genocide. Along with his loyal henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), Valentine enlists the help of some of the world’s top politicians to carry out his devious plan, and it’s up to the Kingsmen to try and stop him before all hell breaks loose.
Despite having all the characteristics of a mainstream film, Kingsman is subversive and rebellious to its very core. It takes every spy movie trope and twists them into something completely audacious and irreverent. It celebrates and mocks the grand tradition of spy movies at every turn, and just like a teenager, tests the boundaries to see just how far it can go in its quest for awesomeness.
It’s all very nudge-nudge-wink-wink, but director Matthew Vaughn knows exactly what he’s doing here as he weaves in his signature brand of irreverent humour in what should be a farfetched plot.
True to his style, it’s also ultra violent. Now, normally I hate ultra violent films, but I have never laughed so hard while the body count on screen skyrocketed.
But it’s to Vaughn’s credit that you don’t even care how dubious the villain’s evil plan is or how much violence there is. This is a movie that grabs you by the throat and hauls you in for the ride of your life as it hurtles towards its conclusion. Vaughn has outdone himself this time, with an unerring, cohesive vision that makes this THE most entertaining movie I’ve seen in a while.
The original comic book miniseries the movie was based on started off with loftier goals. Writer Mark Millar meant to show a different side to the working class in the UK, who are usually portrayed as good-for-nothing welfare cheats, and created the character of Eggsy as a modern working class hero.
Relative unknown Taron Egerton was cast after a long search for the movie’s lead character, and it’s easy to see why. Egerton has a natural likeability, and as Eggsy, he becomes the quintessential charming ruffian who only wants to do what’s right. As Hart says, being a gentleman has nothing to do with the circumstances of one’s birth.
Speaking of which, age may have crept up on Colin Firth, but he still cuts quite the dashing figure as he plays Grizzled Old Mentor to young Egerton. Harry Hart is the very vision of respectability in his bespoke Savile Row suit, which makes it all the more awesome whenever he gives the bad guys a beating. Never before has a spy taken down so many baddies while looking so distinguished and dapper.
He soon becomes a father figure to Eggsy, and for all his bluster and severity, is really rooting for Eggsy to join him as a Kingsman and rise above his circumstances. His belief in Eggsy is something that isn’t echoed by many other characters in the movie, and this results in a bond that really is rather sweet.
It was also good to see Nick Fury, I mean Jackson, as the villain for once, complete with a ridiculously exaggerated lisp. Valentine came across as utterly charming and gregarious, if completely insane, and more than a little reminiscent of all those Silicon Valley geniuses. Methinks he was having way too much fun being the bad guy.
I also enjoyed Caine and Strong doing what they do best, which is a) be very British, and b) be awesome. Strong in particular was delightful as the Q of the Kingsmen, casting a judging eye over the new recruits as he put them through their paces.
There’s so much more that I loved that I wanted to include here (Mark Hamill’s cameo! The Kingsman training sequence! All that sardonic British humour!), but there was one bit that didn’t sit quite right with me. That was a throwaway joke towards the end that felt out of place and completely changed the tone of the last act. Otherwise, it would’ve been the perfect comic book movie.
While the violence in Kingsman: The Secret Service might be seen as excessive to some, it’s still fiercely entertaining. This is a ballsy movie that is batshit insane in the best way possible, and my advice is to just hold on and enjoy the ride.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is playing in Singapore now. Tell us what you think of the movie!