Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Michael Caine
Running time: 129 mins
Release date: January 29th
In recent years the likes of Attack The Block and Channel 4’s Misfits have asked the audience to get on side with unsympathetic groups of uncoof yoofs of the ASBO (is that still a thing?) generation who are thrown into the middle of unlikely and fantastical adventures. In Kingsman: The Secret Service – reuniting the Kick-Ass team of graphic novel author Mark Millar, writer Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn – we are once again asked to believe in a hero who looks like he’s just walked off the set of Jeremy Kyle. Luckily, Taron Egerton’s Eggsy turns out to be quite an affable chap after he’s taken under the wing of Colin Firth and drafted into the recruitment programme of a secret spy agency calling itself Kingsman.
What ensues is charming, funny and thrilling in roughly equal measure, as we watch Eggsy go through the trials of proving his worthiness against a group of hilariously over the top toffs, like dropping Lee Nelson into The Riot Club. It’s during this second act however, that Kingsman does stray dangerously close to becoming another in the 21st century production line of YA fiction adaptations. It has it all; a teen proving themselves as a standout individual despite starting out as the underdog, a burgeoning romance with an underdeveloped love interest that they will ultimately be forced to face off against and a cartoonishly evil villain (here, a fun Samuel L. Jackson) who operates at the highest levels of society, controlling the fates of all mankind unless our unlikely hero can bring it all crashing down. Mix some James Bond in there and that’s it. It’s this element that seems to put the film in danger of being a decent, but seen-it-all-before, spy flick. But when the film kicks off, it really kicks off.
The action in Kingsman is nothing short of insane. A sequence involving Firth’s Harry going off the rails against a thinly-veiled Westoboro Baptist Church parody is so intense, exciting and unabashedly ultraviolent that it’d have the King’s Speech crowd puking into their handbags. At times reminiscent of the action in Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim, the camera whips, darts, pushes and pulls so every hit, shot, stab and slice in the film is clean and satisfying (even if the camera doesn’t linger as long as the more sadistic viewer might like). The third act cranks up to the point where the denouement is a literally mind-blowing acid trip. Never in a million years would a Bond movie be so audacious. ‘Give me a far-fetched theatrical plot any day,’ says Harry at one point. It takes a while, but Kingsman gets there and when it does, it’s worth it.