Kingsman: The Secret Service is, to be entirely honest, completely ridiculous. But it is also, incredibly, incredibly fun. Though that’s perhaps not surprising, as if there’s one thing director Matthew Vaughn knows, it’s how to make a fun movie. Though it is undeniably ridiculous, it is knowingly and unflinchingly so, and therein lies the charm. It is a film that knows its genre history, and pokes fun at the typical story beats without ever becoming a spoof – it’s a fine line, but one that has been expertly walked by Vaughn.
After an agent of a secret spy organisation is killed in action, fellow agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) puts forward the young, non-traditional candidate Eggsy (Taron Egerton) as his colleague’s replacement. Together they learn of a terrorist plot fronted by the villainous Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) and set about taking the eccentric megalomaniac out.
The excellent chemistry between the two leads is a huge boon for the film, with snappy one liners and quips coming thick and fast. On the one hand, Firth oozes a cool wit, pooling all of his quintessential Britishness to portray the perfect gentleman, whilst convincing with his action chops. And on the other hand, relative newcomer Egerton steals the show with his magnificent on screen presence. With Kingsman, a new star has arrived in Taron Egerton.
Samuel Jackson’s villain is, well, one of the more ridiculous aspects of the film, but welcomely so. Richmond Valentine is an old fashioned spy film villain, with a distinctive character trait and excessive aspirations of mass genocide. This is Jackson at his most theatrical, seemingly with zero reservations about taking his character into less believable territories – this is in many respects an old fashioned spy movie, and as such it wouldn’t be complete without a raving megalomaniac trying to take the world down. With James Bond being quite a glum (if effective) affair nowadays, it feels likes a breath of fresh air to see a film in the genre going back to the roots that Bond itself set out.
It is however considerably more violent than Bond has ever been. As in very violent. One church based scuffle in particular is especially jarring, shocking and exhilarating. Much like Vaughn’s Kick-Ass before, it’s a highly stylised hyper-violence, which is effective, but sure to raise a few eyebrows, with Firth already having defended it during the films press rounds – “I don’t think it’s glamourous, I think it’s silly”.
And silly it is, as is the film in general. It’s not to be taken seriously, but at the same time it is seriously well executed. And what’s the harm in a little bit of fun now and then in a world filled with “dark” movies?
Matthew Vaughn completes his hat-trick of comic book films with the impressively fun Kingsman: The Secret Service. Sure, it’s a touch ridiculous, but it sure knows it, and excels as a result of it.
Rating (out of 5):