Friday, February 13, 2015


By dabbling in comic-book adaptations and fantasy flicks, director Matthew Vaughn has solidified his reputation as a high-energy, have-fun-at-the-theatre director who really doesn’t care if you think his work is ridiculous or not. KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE gives Vaughn a new playground; the world of secret agents. 

Gary, or “Eggsy” (Taron Egerton) is recruited by Galahad (Colin Firth), into the Kingsman; a super-secret spy agency led by Arthur (Michael Caine) and Merlin (Mark Strong). As Eggsy gets closer to completing his training, a millionaire/technology tycoon named Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson)  uses his money and fame to launch a new product which may or may not be what it seems. 

KINGSMAN is a fresh look at the old spy genre, in which knives, guns, and grenades are hidden in common items such as shoes, pens, watches, and cigarette lighters…complete with slick vehicles, jetpacks, and plenty of bloody kung-fu fighting leading to many a limb and head lopped off and blown off. It feels like a parody of JAMES BOND in the early going, but the film lets itself become self-aware (characters reference the 007 movies with a wink and nod), and takes care of its business of building its own universe for its characters to inhabit. 

We discover this secret and deadly world through the eyes of Eggsy, and through him we hold on tight during the roller-coaster ride which is his training and eventual missions. It’s a fun ride, and the characters are built just well enough for us to enjoy. But where KINGSMAN loses its edge is the nefarious plot hatched by Valentine. His plan for dominance gets points for being original, but loses more for not making any sense whatsoever. It isn’t just because it’s ridiculous, which fits into the tone of the movie; it just comes off as dumb and actually contradicts itself by movie’s end. With such a silly endgame by the villain, it’s tough to root for the good guys no matter how much we like them or how much fun we’re having watching them kick ass all over the world. 

Matthew Vaughn has put together a very slick looking film. Everything looks and sounds great, the pacing is razor-sharp and the action/fight scenes are an absolute blast. The wit is up-front at all times, and there are plenty of themes that adults and teens would enjoy. The F-bombing is a little much and often feels out of place, the twists that come are somewhat telegraphed from a mile away…and for a spy/comedy its running time of over two hours feels like it could have used another pass in the editing room. 

Acting is on the hammy side overall, but it works considering the tone of the film. Young Taron Egerton gets the most work and does very well, and Colin Firth is his usual elegant self. Michael Caine is solid as always, as is Mark Strong. Samuel L. Jackson is hilarious as the lisping bad guy who never feels like a real villain, and most of the show is stolen by Sophie Cookson…who trains with and befriends Eggsy. Mark Hamil turns in a great and memorable cameo. 

After all the shooting, punching, kicking, dismembering, and blowing things up, KINGSMAN settles into an ending that will likely have younger audiences cheering and older audiences shaking their heads. It’s clear that one’s enjoyment of the film depends on how young they are, or how young they actually feel. That sort of imbalance makes it not for everyone. 


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