Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)

Review #1,137

Director:  Matthew Vaughn
Cast:  Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Mark Hamill
Plot:  A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency's ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.

Genre:  Action / Adventure / Comedy
Awards:  -
Runtime:  129min
Rating:  M18 for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content.

“Manners maketh man.  Do you know what that means?  Then let me teach you a lesson.”

You won't find a more entertaining film this February.  So if you can stomach a good dose of gleeful stylized violence, and time-sensitive thrills, you are in a for a treat.  Have a blast, celebrate the spectacular fireworks, and enjoy this remarkably well-executed action spy movie. 

Directed by Matthew Vaughn, whom I think is one of the coolest filmmakers working today, Kingsman: The Secret Service continues the director's rich vein of creative form – Stardust (2007), Kick-Ass (2010), X-Men: First Class (2011) are all exciting films with substance.  It won't be a stretch to say that his latest tops the cake. 

Starring Colin Firth, in an impeccable suit, who is part of the secretive Kingsman organization whose front is a tailor boutique in London, and a host of other actors including the scene-chomping Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, and Michael Caine, the film bursts into violent life from the very beginning.  Fast-moving and humorous in its reference to popular culture, Vaughn's work also features a breakout performance by Taron Egerton, who has leading man charisma.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is based on a graphic novel, centering on a team of British super-spies with a set of skills and gadgets that could tackle any villain hell bent in taking over the world.  The villain in this case is played by Jackson, who speaks with a lisp and gives us another memorable supporting performance. 

I don't think I need to say much about the story, because if anything, the narrative structure is familiar to Vaughn's previous movies – a young man (Egerton) is groomed to be part of the Kingsman team and has to prove himself that he is worthy of being one. 

But what elevates it from being conventional is Vaughn's melding of genre clich├ęs with a refreshing change of approach from old-school British spy flicks.  As the movie tagline says, and most would agree, this is "more badass than Bond".  Yet the spirit of the old-school spy movie permeates in every frame, except that it is now blessed with inspired creativity, retro-modern nostalgia, and sumptuous if disturbing stylized violence.

Vaughn reportedly rejected the opportunity to direct X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014) – it went to director Bryan Singer instead – so that he could helm this.  I think that was a blessing in disguise.  If you enjoyed Kick-Ass, but desire something with more suave, poise and elegance, then have a blast with this.

Verdict:  As an action spy movie, it is extraordinary in more ways than one – have a blast with this one.


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