If you’ve seen the trailer for Kingsman: The Secret Service (hereafter to be referred to as Kingsman) you pretty much know what you’re getting – minus the swearing – and that’s a good thing. It’s been 10 years since Matthew Vaughn made his directorial debut with Layer Cake and in the intervening years his output of 5 films have proven him to be a filmmaker of note. This is Mr. Vaughn’s second collaboration with Mark Millar – the first being Kick-Ass – both of which are adaptations of graphic novels (oh how I enjoy sequential art!).
Infused with wit, intelligence and a smattering of self-awareness, Kingsman does a great job of entertaining its audience. Playing with spy film conventions, Kingsman has no problem referencing – to varying degrees – those that have gone before it. Whether it’s the sharply dressed agent ala James Bond, the close-quarters brutal combat reminiscent of Jason Bourne or the network supporting “back-room staff” akin to Jack Bauer’s CTU, Kingsman blends all three with aplomb while providing enough trickery of its own to feel fresh.
Bringing together a great cast of seasoned pros and new talent, Kingsman should appeal to a wide-ranging demographic of film-goer. While Colin Firth has proved in the past that he has the chops for comedy, his central role is the key to unlocking this film’s success. He is utterly convincing as both well-spoken gentleman spy, championing the underdog, while still happy and comfortable in his own ability to get down-and-dirty with the worst of them in service of “saving the world”. On this point, it must be noted that the action sequences involving Mr. Firth are highly frenetic and positively violent, but at no time did I feel removed from the experience, thinking that it must just be a stunt double undertaking the “difficult stuff”. He must have had a ball making this film.
As for the rest, well, we have Kick-Ass alumni Mark Strong, who is a fine actor and once again provides a nicely understated performance as Merlin the tech wizard. Kingsman’s head-honcho, so-to-speak, is ably played by Sir Michael Caine – codename Arthur – who, come to think of it, didn’t seem to fancy standing up for the majority of his performance. Whether it’s because he couldn’t be bothered, a contractual thing or for health reasons I don’t rightly know, but he was good nonetheless. And for those of you across the pond, the legend that is Samuel L. Jackson brings a memorable performance as megalomaniac with a speech impediment, Richmond Valentine.
Relative newcomer Taron Egerton – who can also be seen in Testament of Youth – handles the pressure of “headlining” Kingsman with relative ease, convincing in the role of ASBO (Google it) waiting-to-happen Gary “Eggsy” Unwin. Ushered into a world where social class still matters to the myopic, Mr. Egerton brings enough sass to the role to endear us, while still providing “WTF?” moments that are just plain funny. We also have another newcomer in the form of Sophie Cookson as Roxy, a fellow Kingsman hopeful played with strength, verve and the right amount of femininity.
All-in-all, a thoroughly enjoyable time is to be had watching Kingsman: The Secret Service and is yet another quality film directed by Matthew Vaughn.
Thank you for reading 🙂