Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

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Director: Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class)
Writer: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Producers: Adam Bohling, David Reid, Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Jack Davenport, Mark Hamill, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Sofia Boutella
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 129 min.


Spy movies have a tendency to feel constricting and demure. Even with all the action and gadgets of Bond, he always feels so serious and like there’s so little joy in his life. I guess that’s part of the appeal of the new Bond – he’s dark and secretive and the movies are gritty. Enter Matthew Vaughn. He seems to have looked at the genre, decided that it’s too boring and stuffy, gave it the finger and set out to deliver an epically rambunctious spy movie that flies in the face of convention, all the while maintaining most of the irreverence offered up by the source material from bad boy comics creator Mark Millar.

This isn’t the first time Vaughn and writing partner Jane Goldman (worth noting a woman has a hand in adapting a successful comic book property – not the first either) have taken on Millar. We all saw how Kick-Ass turned out; Vaughn and Goldman have proven they can aptly adapt Millar’s storytelling style to the big screen and the results in Kingsman: The Secret Service are a clear indication that Goldman and Vaughn should keep adapting Millar properties because the results tend to be spectacular.

Colin Firth goes action star as Harry Hart, the member of a super secret spy organization known as the Kingsmen. A series of events leads the group on a search of a new member and the current members have to provide a candidate. Hart finds his in his past, a young man who goes by Eggsy, newcomer star-in-the-making Taron Egerton, whose father once saved Hart’s life. What follows is a series of training montages as the recruits vie for the single spot on the spy team while Hart and his agency cronies including Mark Strong as Merlin and Michael Cane as Arthur (see the hilarious theme here?) lead the charge against Valentine, Samuel L. Jackson sporting a lisp (in what seems like one of the longest leads to a joke in a movie in some time), a mad genius who is trying to solve the world’s climate problem.


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Kingsman is the kind of irreverent bit of entertainment that I can’t help but love. It features ridiculously awesome action sequences that are choreographed beautifully and shot and edited by people who clearly know how to shoot and edit action. The scenes are just the right length (unlike the bigh action sequence in Avengers which goes on F-O-R-E-V-E-R) and they’re electric though admittedly, that may have something to do with the fact that both Firth and Egerton are kinetic on screen.

It features social commentary that feels natural to the story rather than squeezed in to include a “message” along with some wonderful female characters that are more than just sex objects and/or villains – though Sofia Boutella makes an impressive heavy that also happens to be Valentine’s right hand gal. And how charming is it to see two characters of the opposite sex being friends but not being romantic? It’s very charming and very welcome and, I hope, there’s more of this to come.

And that’s pretty much the feeling walking out of Kingsman: please give us more.

There are cool gadgets, exploding heads, anal sex jokes and more than a smattering of great action sequences but what really puts Kingsman: The Secret Service over the top is that it’s funny and it doesn’t give a flying fuck about being occasionally offensive or PC. It aims to entertain and entertain it does (in fashionable style too!).

Kingsman: The Secret Service opens Friday, February 13.


Trailer:


Links:
IMDb Profile
Official Website
Flixter

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David Brook
Admin

I enjoyed the hell out of this too. The only thing I’d say about the way the action is presented is that it feels sped up which I didn’t always like. A lot of it is shot in long takes though which is great. I frickin’ hate over-cut action scenes which use kinetic editing to hide the fact that the actors have no fighting skills what-so-ever.

That central action scene in the church was insane. It could possibly be one of the most violent scenes ever, at least in a mainstream Hollywood movie. Which is awesome 🙂

Jim Laczkowski
Admin

This movie sounds like Matt Gamble’s wet dream 🙂

antho42
Guest

Andrew is going to hate this film. I like it better than Kick Ass, mainly because I like spy films more than superhero films. This film needed more Colin Firth and Mark Strong, I have to say. But still an enjoyable film. Also, Vaughn follows the Takashi Kitano’s Zatochi school of thought when it comes to special effects.

Andrew James
Guest

This is the definition of Kurtnip.

Kurt Halfyard
Guest

seeing it in an hour with the Boy and LJ.

Andrew James
Admin

NOT a kids movie!

David Brook
Admin

Woooahh – don’t show this to kids!

Marina
Guest

This will be fun.

Kurt
Guest

Too late for that, now! (BTW, it’s not Rated R in Canada, merely 14A (kind of the Canadian PG-13).
In this specific case, I don’t think it was much of a problem for Willem, as it played far more like a mixture of Zombie-Video Gaming (CHURCH) and FPshooters (FINAL LAIR) than a real movie of consequence. As with all of Matthew Vaughn’s movies, there is an utter lack of consequence (Everything is a hyperviolent cartoon with blood, but not really impact) Lots of clever (and shockingly vulgar) homage to other movies/genres (including Bond’s recent penchant for unsubtle product placement (Hello McDonalds and Guiness) . The boy didn’t have much of an issue with things here.

Sean Kelly
Guest

Saying 14A is the “Canadian PG-13” is a valid comparison, but also a major generalization.

While there are some patterns (i.e. 14A films in Canada consist of either hard PG-13 films or light R films), it is a very different system than the United States (especially since films can be given a different rating in each province).

In Ontario, an R rating become much less common after the standardized system (G, PG, 14A, 18A, and R) was implemented in 2003 (replacing the old theatrical ratings of Family, Parental Guidance, Adult Accompaniment, and Restricted). However, since older films typically don’t get re-rated, the higher rating still appears on some DVD packages.

Sean Kelly
Guest

Here are the rating definitions from the Ontario Film Review Board website:
G – Suitable for viewing by all ages (obviously)

PG – Parental guidance advised. Theme or content may not be suitable for all children. (while this rating has become more rare in the US – mostly family films – it’s still used quite regularly here)

14A – Suitable for people 14 years of age or older. Those under 14 should view with an adult. No rental or purchase by those under 14. Parents cautioned. May contain violence, coarse language and/or sexually suggestive scenes.

18A – Suitable for people 18 years of age or older. Persons under 18 should view with an adult. No rental or purchase by those under 18. Parents strongly cautioned. Will likely contain explicit violence, frequent coarse language, sexual activity and/or horror.

R – Restricted to 18 years and older. No rental or purchase by those under 18. Contents not suitable for minors. Contains frequent sexual activity, brutality/graphic violence, intense horror, and/or other disturbing content. (I can probably count the films I’ve seen theatrical that received the modern Ontario R rating on one hand – Hobo with a Shotgun is one that comes to mind)

kurt
Guest

Exactly. Parent discretion in all things. In this specific case, my son, I know can handle a slightly more over-the-top violent movie than perhaps some kids his age. Especially when the violence in this case is so cartoony. I’m not ready to show him FUNNY GAMES or IRREVERSIBLE quite yet, or heck, even THE SHINING is on hold. But after the exploding heads sequence, I’m curious if he’d dig DR. STRANGELOVE.

All this being said, if my wife had known just how violent and F-bomb-y the film was, she probably wouldn’t have let him tag along with us. I’ve brought him to stuff like MAD MAX (https://vimeo.com/96876271) , and ALIEN (https://vimeo.com/89817699) in the past, which is far more painful/shocking in how it portrays on-screen violence violence.

David Brook
Admin

I guess it’s particularly shocking (for want of a better word) in the UK where the restrictions are more strict. Basically we have U, PG, 12A (like your PG13), then we have 15 and 18 where you have to be that age or above to watch it. You can’t go with a parent or guardian.

A lot of parents don’t pay much attention to the ratings at home, but at the cinema you have to adhere to them so it feels a bit ‘wrong’ for youngsters going to see 15 and 18 rated films on the big screen to me. My parents were fairly strict though. They didn’t wait until I was exactly the correct age to show me more ‘mature’ films, but they wouldn’t bend the rules as much as many others would.

I totally appreciate parental discretion though and differing maturities of children, so I wouldn’t damn your parenting decisions, but personally I’d probably be more prudish.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Or, you know, two of Matthew Vaughn’s movies. But never leave it up to Kurt to let facts get in the way of a good rant.

Sean Kelly
Guest

I guess in Kurt’s mind KICK-ASS = All of Matthew Vaughn’s movies.

He actually has a pretty varied filmography, with KINGSMAN being the first time he has done something twice (that being an adaptation of a Mark Millar comic).

In fact, after seeing KINGSMAN it might be a good opportunity for me finally catch up with LAYER CAKE.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I’ve seen all of Vaughn’s movies (yes, including Stardust) and they all have a kind of ‘small scale’ approach to a wider-scale stories. It is probably his lower budgets, but it plays best with LAYER CAKE, which even so, isn’t a particularly great or original movie; A Solid but cheap potboiler, which kind of is all of his films, even X-Men First Class, which never achieves any kind of scale despite it’s Cuban Missile crisis story.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Layer Cake IS a great movie. It’s also a movie entirely about consequence and nothing close to a hyperviolent cartoon. I seriously question if you’ve actually watched it.

And what exactly does the term scale used pejoratively have to do with anything? A small story isn’t important? It isn’t good? It doesn’t have weight? It’s an odd and subjective critique to hang ones hat on, especially when you bow at the feet of Mamet, another director utterly lacking any sort of scale to his films. Oh wait, you’d call his films intimate, because you’re biased.

Prick.

Kurt Halfyard
Guest

The difference is that Vaughn aims for large scale movies. You are missing my point entirely to pick at something else.

Andrew James
Admin

While I disagree with Kurt on this subject, I have to side with him in regards to this comment – I think you’re missing the point (the Cinecast should clear it up as we talk about scope a fair bit). Still, I think we should implement a “like” button that only appears from comments by Matt Gamble. I’d push it in this case; for the effort.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

The Mamet argument is ridiculous, because he is almost always telling very small scale stories, con artists, specialists, a movie shoot, low-rent real estate, black-ops, etc.

Matt Gamble
Guest

Look at Kurt, making excuses for the movies he likes. How very Halfyardian of you.

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