Saturday, February 14, 2015

Kingsmen: The Secret Service Review

Kingsmen: The Secret Service
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast Headliners: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Samuel L Jackson
Original Release Date: February 13th, 2015

            The pairing of director Matthew Vaughn with the world of comic books has always proved to be a winning combination. Whether he brilliantly  rebooted X-Men with First Class and did writing for its crazy sequel Days of Future Past,  or did the fantasy tale Stardust he has created a unique and immersive world each time. And best of all have been his adaptations of the works of Mark Millar in Kick Ass and its sequel. The time has come for Millar’s next  series to reach  adaptation , and so for Kingsmen: The Secret Service it makes perfect sense that Vaughn returns in the director’s chair for a crazy ride.
            In this world there exists an order of  elite spies based in Britain known as the Kingsmen. Masters of both combat and suit coat fashion style, they are sent to do the blackest of operations while using Arthurian monikers such as Galahad (Colin Firth), Merlin (Mark Strong), and Arthur (Michael Caine).     One of their organization is taken out on a mission by extravagant business mogul Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) and his blades-for-legs assassin Gazelle (Sofia Boutella).  It’s up to Galahad to find a new replacement for Lancelot.
            That’s where Gary “Eggsy” Unwin comes in, our main hero played by Taron Egerton.  He’s a bloke of a average joe and it’s up to Galahad to shape him up into Kingsmen material at the academy alongside 11 other competitors for their can only be one.    Egerton is  a pretty good main character, bringing a charisma unseen in the likes of Kick-Ass’s Aaron Taylor Johnson. He has a laugh line or two before he gets into the program, but by the end of the movie he is a suave coolguy nearly up there as a junior James Bond himself.
            The movie has strengths in its many weird characters.  The villainous team of Valentine and his assistant are great and enhance every seen they’re in,  with even SLJ managing to break type by utilizing a Mike Tyson-esque lisp and aversion to getting his hands dirty.   Firth is deliciously classy as Galahad, with  the best parts of the film being when he gets to step in on the action using cool ideas for spy gear (of which there are many) and delivering great one liners.  Mark Strong is the other comedic highlight as the trainees overseer.  Mark Hamill makes a decent but criminally small appearance as a Professor the Kingsmen are tracking, but it’s a shame his role is mostly reduced to whimpering in fear.  
            This is a long movie that gets a bit slow and somber when it’s not being funny, but it certainly manages to pick up immensely once a certain plot point happens. Because it turns out Valentine’s plot leads to people wanting to viciously murder each other on command, which is when the film’s R-rating comes bloodily crashing onto the screen. And oh boy does it get bloody. The touch of Matthew Vaughn is evident in these frenetic action scenes and it really feels like a comic book, AND MORE, at this level of intensity and chaos.   At a moment or too the visuals can seem a bit cheesy and sloppy, but that may be the point.           
            Overall the movie is full of surprises, which is fitting to its spy theme.  It’s a crazy, unique take on the spy film and it feels like the “Kick-Ass take” on the genre.  The tone ranges from silly, to dramatic, to insane action but it mostly manages to carry a steady quality. And when it becomes insane…. What a wild ride it is.  8.15 out of 10

(updated from 8 to 8.15 in november 2015 after reflection)

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