Matthew Vaughn has been becoming increasingly one of the film industry’s most gifted, unique and finest directors around. From “Layer Cake” to “Kick Ass” to “X-Men: First Class”, Vaughn continuously and quietly has been racking up one of the most consistent careers in modern film history.
Still, one thing you almost never want to see is when a nearly completed movie is pushed back several months. Normally (but with some notable exceptions) a movie being pushed back several months spells almost certain disaster for a film. “Kingsman: The Secret Service” was originally suppose to be released this past October. Even with Vaughn’s name attached to it, it’s reasonable to have a fair share of skepticism (in this very weak early 2015 film year). “Kingsman” though is among Vaughn’s best works. A true mastery of high kinetic action, entertainment, satire and performance from our main actors, “Kingsman” is the definition of fun. I had a blast watching it.
A top secret spy agency called Kingsman seeks to recruit a tough out of his luck street kid whom father was a former Kingsman, killed in the line of duty. Gentlemen in appearance but bad ass underneath, this tough street kid named Eggsy is put through one of the toughest trainings programs there is to prove himself above his competition to become the next Kingsman. Meanwhile though a tech billionaire genius plans a global attack on the entire world that only Kingsman could stop.
Is this movie the most original story? Absolutely not, but that’s not where the genius of this movie lies. Whereas “Kick Ass” was a satire on the superhero genre, “Kingsman” is a satire to old spy movies. More specially Sean Connery/Roger Moore era of “James Bond” films. While “Austin Powers” touches on that subject matter and attempts to parody those films “Kingsman” does something different. Which, embraces the tropes and clichés of the genre and turns it on its heels. Over the top gadgets, evil genius hell bent on world domination, villain exposition, over the top action, one liners (the whole nine yards) is here. Poking fun at them while also having fun in embracing them. If you know your old spy films this has many layers of references to seep through.
Not only does Vaughn bring out wonderful spy satire he also brings a comic book feel to the picture. Adapted from Mark Millar’s graphic novel (whom also wrote the original “Kick Ass” comic books), the kinetic and over the top (sometimes) slow motion action sequences help give off this tone of a mix between the spy and comic book genres. It’d be very easy for the filmmakers of “Kingsman” to say lets only make a spy movie or go let’s make this as “comic bookie” as possible. Vaughn and co. instead blend together the two tonal themes rather than just attempting to make one or the other. A tough thing to accomplish since it’s easy to fall apart and not know when to focus on one or the other. The recent “Mortdecai” fell into this trap.
Those kinetic and over the top action sequences, I aptly mentioned before, are one of the biggest accomplishments here. Matthew Vaughn’s unique style of mixing fast pace edited hand to hand fight scenes together with long, almost one shot, well choreographed fight scenes help create the best and most entertaining action sequences in the young year. They are exciting, fun and at times dramatic as well. It’s a wonderful mixture of mayhem.
Playing the lead role of Gary “Eggsy” Urwin is unknown talent Taron Egerton. A breakthrough role, Egerton is able to be likeable, tough and gentleman like all at the same time. Already a rumored actor to take up the “Spider-Man” mantle, Egerton is able to be likeable, tough and gentleman like all at the same time. Already a rumored actor to take up the “Spider-Man” mantle, Egerton already shows a dynamic range. In the beginning his character feels like an idealistic Eminem type street punk but by the end looks like a young Colin Firth. A sure talent for years to come if he continues to pick great roles like this.
In the era of Sean Connery James Bond, I believe that Colin Firth would have been the perfect choice to pick up the mantle of Bond, after seeing this flick (maybe that could still be true if we weren’t in the era of the Daniel Craig/Jason Bourne style of action hero). Colin has the British charm and sophistication down but also has the surprising talents of a potential action hero. Firth does an incredible amount of his own stunts; 80% of them according to the stunt coordinator, (something that even a lot of action star won’t do). Never once did I ever think Firth (the man from “The Kings Speech”) could pull off a heavy action role (maybe he has already been in one I’m just not recalling). Naturally the Academy Award winning actor can flex his acting chops whenever he so needs to. But, generally speaking this is requires less of a dramatic touch and more of a fun sly one, and Firth clearly looks like he is a ton of fun in the role.
It’s hard not to like “Kingsman”, It’s just truly a smart entertaining action romp. “Kingsman” does start off a tad bit choppy but Vaughn’s style quickly makes up for it. While many movies attempt to tackle the spy genre few succeed and “Kingsman” more than succeeds at what it intends to do. Never once does the film drag (even through the film’s surprising and long but otherwise the sometimes hilarious training sequences) and the cast brings their A game (even the shocking and quirky lisp talking Samuel L Jackson as the evil villain); Matthew Vaughn has outdone himself one again. “Kingsman” does what movies are meant to do ,that is to entertain you, and this will entertain the hell out of you.