Monday, 2 February 2015

Film Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Adapted from the comic series by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, Kingsman: The Secret Service centres on Garry 'Eggsy' Urwin,  an intelligent street youth who finds himself on the wrong side of the law, and not for the first time, after stealing and joyriding a car but he is saved by the dapper, sharp suited Harry Hart (Colin Firth) who opens his eyes to a brighter future and to follow in his father's footsteps as a Kingsman agent. Eggsy soon get his first taste of life as a spy when Samuel L. Jackson's Valentine, a mixture of Blofield and an unhinged Steve Jobs who plans to eradicate humans to save Earth from the effects of global warming.     

Matthew Vaughn has always been a breath of fresh air to the comic book film genre. With his 2010 film, Kick-Ass brought an audacious amount of violence and Chloe Mortez dropping the C-bomb and in his 2011 X-Men: First Class saw everyone's favourite mutants sent back to the 60's to stop the A-bomb. But the landscape of the genre has changed dramatically, so where does Vaughn's latest film sit alongside the likes of Avengers and The Dark Knight? To put it simple, it's the anecdote. It's the anecdote to the dark, gritty and humourless comic book films that dominate the genre in the modern era. While the film may come a comic book, it owes a lot more to Ian Fleming than anyone else. Its not secret that Vaughn is a massive Bond fan and it's clear to see. The film is stuff full of old school Bond from bodacious lairs built into the side of snowy mountains to maniacal, outlandish plots to take over the world. For a long time now Vaughn has been short listed to take over the Bond franchise but here the director puts two fingers up at Mendes and Craig, showing them how to have a bit of fun.

Vaughn has a habit for picking out the next big thing, he has done it before with the likes of Aaron Johnson and he seems to have done it again with Taron Egerton. Newcomer Egerton excels as street smart Eggsy, a hoody with a heart and enough IQ to see him through Oxbridge, who Harry seeks to give a little back to the man who saved his life. The young actor manages to pull of strong dramatic scenes, expertly handling himself in the action set pieces and he brings a lot of the humour to the film with his fish out of water role. Colin Firth is having a lot of fun playing out of character as super spy Harry Hart, his best scene involves a pub fight that wouldn't seem out of place in The Raid films. Jackson's turn as lisping, megalomaniac billionaire Valentine is turned up to eleven but he feels like one audacious step too far. His henchwoman is Kingsman's version of Hit Girl or, Oddjob Pistorius if you will. Michael Caine pops in for a few scenes as the head of the Kingsman agency, Arthur, and Mark Strong comes close to stealing the show as Merlin, Kingsman's version of Q but with a machine gun.   

Like Kickass before it, Kingsman: The Secret Service was independently funded allowing it to avoid the squeamishness of the studio system and reveal in its violent madness. The church scene is beautifully choreographed carnage with Firth slicing, dicing, stabbing and punching his way through a congregation of racist Christians that will no doubt have Daily Mail readers reaching for their complaints forms. The film is bodacious, brutal and brilliant and if you are willing to enter the film with an open mind and willingness to accept a world where arms can be chopped off by modified prosthetic legs then there is a lot to love about Vaughn's latest and even if you don't its doubtful the director could give a fuck. 


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