Kingsman: The Secret Service [MOVIE REVIEW]

Matthew Vaughn has been one of the most interesting directors working in Hollywood for the past couple of years after he has been knocking seemingly every film he has tackled out of the park and seeing as he went on to direct ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ instead of ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ just shows how much passion he has these comic books and graphic novels so lets see if he manages to nail yet another “adaptation” (adaptation is in quotation marks because judging from what I have seen from the Kick-Ass novel he borrows very little from the source material).

Short answer; This is possibly his best film to date as ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ excellently balances a fun comedic thrill ride while also maintaining some level of maturity and seriousness so the stakes feel real and the villain (played by Samuel L. Jackson) can maintain being a threat. The long answer is pretty much the rest of the review so if you for some reason have not checked out the film yet then I advice you to do so, do not even bother reading the rest of the review.

Colin Firth has clearly been put out of his comfort zone here as the brilliant spy Harry Hart (Galahad) but he tackles the character with such ease that you could swear he has been doing this kind of role for years. It is such a charming and nuanced performance that is definitely one of the highlights of the entire year. You just cannot take your eyes off of him whenever he is on screen as it is clear he is having so much fun delivering all these lines and moving around so much more than he has ever done before. Someone who also seems to be having quite a lot of fun is Samuel L. Jackson as the villain Valentine. At first when I heard the lisp I was really turned off by his performance because I did not think he could possibly keep that up the entire film without it getting irritating – but you know what, it never did. It can definitely not be easy to make a villain who seems to be so insecure about killing people and barely even manages to watch people get killed come across as a threat for our lead heroes (while also having that comical lisp) but Samuel L. Jackson absolutely nails it. You can clearly see, while he is not fond of watching people getting killed he still feels what he is doing is necessary and right. The character also of course has a helping hand that does all the fighting (essentially, the muscle) who in this film is Gazelle played by Sofia Boutella. She is of course a badass and Sofia does a fantastic job in the role. The leading man in the film though is Taron Egerton as Eggsy (or Gary Unwin). This is his first big leading role and if his performance is anything to go by – we have not seen the last of him. He is being thrown right in the mix between these big stars like Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Caine and yet he is able to hold is own and even owning several scenes he shares with his insanely experienced and renowned counterparts.

The real standout for me personally though is naturally the direction by Matthew Vaughn. He is an absolute force to be reckoned with when it comes to balls to the wall action and has been for the past couple of years. The action scenes we saw in ‘Kick-Ass’ are turned up to 11 here as he hits every beat and utilizes every possible moment he can to get the audience pumped all the while making sure that none of the fight scenes are somehow out of place with the narrative or just there to grind the movie to a halt just to show off. The already infamous “church scene” is just as brilliant as you hoped it would be and is definitely a highlight of the film but I shall not ignore the fantastic finale that shows Oliver Megaton (director of such classics like ‘Transporter 3’, ‘Taken 2’, and most recently ‘Taken 3’) how it is done. The film does not shy away from showing blood being spilt as all the punches are all in camera but it is never supposed to be taken very seriously as most of it is played just like the film is, a fun and action packed thrill ride.

The original soundtrack by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson is great but apart from the main theme it is not one I remembered a couple of hours after I saw it. It does servee the purpose for the movie great though and can definitely not be considered a weakpoint.

The plot is very clearly inspired by the early James Bond movie complete with charming spies, secret lairs, fun gadgets and as I mentioned; a villain with a hench-woman who does the actual fighting. This is about as good as a love letter to the old spy movies get but it never succumbs to just being a movie referencing other movies. Basically it never spirals out of control because there is still a great and engaging story being told here that makes it stand on its own. The movie does however go through the typical scene where our main character stops being a Kingsman (like all movies like this do) and here it definitely feels tacked on as he is easily allowed to come back later without a problem. There was clearly no need for it apart from extending the runtime.

Overall though, ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ is a near perfect homage to the classic spy movies from the 50’s and 60’s that is filled with so much confidence in its execution that you just cannot help but smile at the fact that a movie with such a good looking premise actually turned out this awesome. Matthew Vaughn just knows how not to mess up movies like this so despite a few missteps in the script, this is one of the best movies of 2015 and I would be surprised if it was not at least in the top 10 by the end.


- Lucas


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