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.
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.