Just to let all who read on know, this is a SPOILER FREE review.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
is a movie very loosely based on the comic book The Secret Service
by Mark Millar
and Dave Gibbons
. The movie is written by Jane Goodman
and Matthew Vaughn
, who also directs. This is the same team behind the similar Millar
comic adaptation, Kick Ass
The film, unlike its unfortunate title, is anything but clunky. It is a slick, fun, R Rated, filthy humour and ultra violence filled romp that plays like an intentional love letter to Roger Moore
era James Bond
in both its humour and action, plays a lot like Kick Ass
did before it and like Kick Ass
the movie contains plenty of awesome jaw dropping and taboo busting moments. Vaughn
also repeats the trick of editing the fight scenes to a retro soundtrack that, while not exactly giving Guardians of the Galaxy
a run for its money, is still damn cool.
The actors all appear to be having a great time and mostly play the whole thing straight, even when the situations are anything but. It's sad then that some of the dialogue is occasionally knowingly winking at the audience and slips into heavy handed referential moments. It never spoils the scenes outright but everyone should already be getting the joke without turning this into Austin Powers with gore. Colin Firth
staple Mark Strong
and newcomer Taron Egerton
are all particularly superb. Firth
, not always the first name you think of as cool or a fantastic ass kicker steps up in this and steals the show.
Samuel L Jackson
's lisping, brightly costumed villain may be the tipping point for some because while he is undeniably fun and knowingly over the top, the film might have been better served by having someone with just a little bit more menace. You could still have the Bond
villain like plot, mountain lair, henchmen and almost-superhuman sidekick with a singular weapon while having just a touch of genuine menace to the main, big bad. Even Donald Pleasence
's Blofeld was sinister in his own way.
The directing is assured and excitable with the fight scenes, in particular, being a stand out because while they are very kinetic, you can tell exactly what is happening at all times. There's my usual reservation about CGI, especially where limb hacking or fake blood is concerned and something like Kill Bill 1
's prosthetics and make up effects would've worked better here. The myriad of nods to old 60s and 70s romps, usually starring the perpetual eyebrow raising of one Sir Roger Moore
or maybe Peter O'Toole
, are a joy to anyone, like myself, that genuinely loves that kind of stuff or grew up with it. You can't be cynical in a film like this, be along for the ride or don't bother. It asks you to sit back, have fun and suspend belief from the opening scene onwards.
The nicest thing though about the whole thing was just how occasionally surprising it was and how it contains sequences and scenes you just can't quite believe you are watching on the big screen. Like Kick Ass
are unafraid to show you images that have been common place in some of the more fringe comic books but rarely, if ever, make it to the screen of your local multiplex. They also unashamedly put in the kind of jokes that you may tell your friends in a bar after a couple but, again, rarely if ever get an airing for mass consumption. It's a messy, exciting, enjoyable, cool, breezy breath of fresh air.
The Director, Matthew Vaughn
, who briefly introduced the screening I was at, said that distributer Fox was unsure of its potential in America because the film was "very English". This may explain why Fox messed around with the release date a few times and why, sadly, the trailer spoils so much of the film attempting to 'explain' it. As for the Englishness or not of the film, I don't think Fox has anything to worry about. It will happily ride the wave of the current Anglophile (Brit loving geek) nostalgia boom that is sweeping America with the likes of TV Shows Sherlock
and Downton Abbey
It also has more than a few echoes of James Bond
which has always been a big hit in The States.
Plus it has every American's favourite older Brit Colin Firth
in it being undeniably awesome and giving Liam Neeson
a run for his money in the action stakes.
If there is one very British aspect to the movie it's that it has absolutely no regard for authority and is joyously, ridiculously subversive on all fronts. It certainly will make you either proud to be British again or wish you were British, which certainly makes a change from the Brits always playing villains.
The audience I was with applauded several times throughout and very loudly at the end.
If you enjoyed Kick Ass
, like Dr.Who
, like James Bond
, like comic books or long for the days when movies were made for the kid inside every adult and not just for dumb kids then Kingsman
is for you.
I would strongly urge anyone now intending to see it on its US release date of February 13th 2015
to avoid the trailers as much as possible and go in fresh. Your experience will be enhanced greatly.
Remember the days when trailers didn't spoil the whole first 2 acts of a film?
4 out of 5 bullet proof umbrellas