Very few films will tell you what they hope to accomplish right there in the dialogue and then manage to pull it off. At about the midway point of this fun spy romp Samuel L. Jackson’s character says that it is going to be an old fashioned spy flick then before you can say “Bond. James Bond” director Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass) has done just that. On top of that the film manages to transform Colin Firth into a credible and kick ass spy. Bonus points!
Fun, fun, fun with plenty of style is what Kingsman: The Secret Service is all about. For those of you old enough to remember James Bond movies starring Sean Connery like Goldfinger or You Only Live Twice then the modus operandi of this film will be very familiar to you.
Lisping tech billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson – Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained) wears his Google glasses and casual urban wear, but is a man with a plan. His plan involves climate control and the giving away Sim cards that give everyone free Internet and cell phone usage. Modern day brilliance. He knows that everyone today cannot live without these two technologies so if he develops something that can be transmitted via these two devices he will control in whatever way he wants to a large portion of the entire planet’s population.
Spy agencies controlled by the different countries of the planet due to all their red tape cannot hope to get the one up over a man like this. So it is up to the very clandestine Kingsman spy organization. Run by a man called Arthur (Michael Caine – The Dark Knight, Inception) the Kingsman – organization in which all the spies are named after characters from the story of the Knights of the Round Table – wage battle as gentlemen with impeccable suits and manners against dastardly villains. Spy numero uno is Galahad or Harry Hart (Colin Firth – The King’s Speech, Love Actually). He is capable of kicking your ass without wrinkling his well cut suit.
While looking for a replacement for the recently killed Lancelot (Jack Davenport – The Talented Mr. Ripley, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest), in which Harry forwards the rough around the edges Eggsy (Taron Egerton – Testament of Youth) as his candidate, Kingsman also has to try and thwart Valentine’s twisted plan. While Merlin (Mark Strong – The Imitation Game, Zero Dark Thirty) puts the young candidates through a very stringent test to weed out the pretenders, Harry occupies himself with finding out who is behind the plan and eliminate them.
The violence is so over the top it is cartoonish at times. It is graphic, but you cannot really take it seriously. Counteracting the action is a sharp wit that runs deep and is very cheeky. A spy flick with plenty of oomph. The notion behind it is rather silly though in the hands of Vaughn it becomes pure entertainment rather than a joke. Spy films have, including the Bourne series and the Daniel Craig Bond films, have gone rather dark and cold of late. So this return to the genre’s sillier elements is a breath of fresh air.
How could you not like a film involving bulletproof suits, headquarters beneath a Savile Row suit shop, a billionaire who serves McDonalds to his dinner guest, a naughty Swedish princess, political satire, and a henchwoman (Sofia Boutella – StreetDance 2) who uses her Oscar Pistorius blades to slice people in two? Vaughn’s film borrows from more than Bond films also referencing films like The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Kill Bill, 28 Days Later, and even Austin Powers. It is very British, very stylish and very witty. A fun two hours at the cinema that hopefully signals the return of good films in 2015.