“The suit is the modern gentleman’s armour. The Kingsmen are the new knights.”
Based on the graphic novel by Scottish writer Mark Millar (Wanted, Civil War) and written and directed by Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a weird mash-up of James Bond, X-Men and Adulthood. It’s a very weird movie but also bloody loads of fun!
Colin Firth plays Harry Hart the quintessential British gent (again) who also goes by the codename Galahad. The debonair Firth oozes class as a spy for a secret organisation known as The Kingsmen. After his life is saved by a fellow Kingsman, Firth visits his colleague’s home and passes on a gift to the man’s child. Cue 17 years later and said child known as Eggsy – played impeccably by Taron Egerton – is now a young man who has got himself in trouble and is in dire need of some help. So Firth interjects himself and becomes Egerton’s mentor and some crazy shit begins to go down.
Yes it’s all a little traditional in it’s set-up and actually the storytelling throughout is as generic as any other “new recruit must prove his naysayers wrong” type movie. The first half of the movie isn’t a million miles away from X-Men: First Class, another Vaughn movie. The bringing together of a new team and whittling them down with various challenges to test their resolve isn’t anything new but at least some of the challenges have a few twists. Kingsman attacks the spy genre with something that it’s never felt before. It’s brash and ultra-violent to the point that it sometimes just feels like it’s taking the piss out of itself, which is fine, but films like this often finds their viewers only watching on to see just how more ridiculous it can really get. Like another one of his previous films Kick-Ass, Matthew Vaughn takes his over-the-top approach to blending violence with comedy to the next level. Within the first ten minutes a man gets sliced in half from head to toe by a villainous sidekick with dagger-like leg prosthetics in a laughably unexpected sequence. The fight scenes – of which there are many – are akin to something from Kill Bill but have the cinematic feel of Hot Fuzz. It’s just bizarre but thoroughly enjoyable. At no point was I bored…
Unfortunately I started to loose interest slightly after Firth’s character gets shot in the head. Eggsy understandably takes it hard and has to prove himself yet again in his mentor’s absence. Firth is good here but this movie doesn’t exactly do anything to enhance his acting credentials. Not that he needs to considering he is an Oscar winner and rarely ever puts a foot wrong in any of his roles. It’s fun to see him kick arse, even if his fight scenes are a bit chaotic and eye watering at times (especially the fight sequence that takes place in a church) but after he died the movie sort of lost it’s edge. It went a little too Austin Powers for my liking. Secret tunnels and satellites. Time ticking away on the apocalyptic evil plans of the villain. Our hero must hurry to save the world. It just gets a little too on-the-nose for me.
Because of the nature of how the film flows, most of the characters are a little one dimensional. Kingsman isn’t really that kind of movie were we need to care about every single character – it’s so mental that you sometimes forget that stellar actors like Michael Caine and Mark Strong are even in it – but at no point did I feel the threat of something bad happening to any of them. Even when Firth died, emotionally I didn’t really care that much, I was just more annoyed than anything that one of the movie’s better characters had gone. Even Sam Jackson’s baseball cap-wearing villain-with-a-lisp Valentine felt one dimensional and plays like a version of Dr. Evil. But while Austin Powers is straight up meta-spoof, Kingsman never really has the courage to be either spoof or straight, it’s sort of a confusing mess but it’s an insane and thoroughly enjoyable adventure nonetheless.
Gavin Logan – Follow me on Twitter