Sunday, March 01, 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Year: 2015
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Caine, Sophie Cookson

Plot: Eggsy, a juvenile delinquent, is recruited by Harry Hart, a friend of his late father, to join the Kingsmen, a top secret spy organisation tasked to protect the world. Their latest threat pits them against an eco-terrorist who has a plan to wipe out the world's population.

Review: Matthew Vaughn's latest film has elements of two of his previous works; the ultra violence of Kick Ass and the cool suave factor of X-Men: First Class. Some people already think that Kingsman is his best work yet, but is it?

Based on the comicbook The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, Kingsman tells the story of the Kingsmen, a spy organisation which evolved from the old Knights of The Round Table, filled with members sporting codenames of the same knights like Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot and Galahad. Galahad, feeling guilty over Lancelot sacrificing his life to save him, recruits Lancelot's son Eggsy to join them and train to become the next Lancelot, which is no easy task since he's just a juvenile kid with low ambition. At the same time, Richmond Valentine, a billionaire tech geek, comes up with a dastardly plan to save the earth: by wiping out most of the human population. Galahad has to stop him, but he's going to need Eggsy to man up quickly.

I had my doubts before I went into the theatre to see this, I'll admit. I recall not liking Kick Ass very much, and I was simply hoping this wouldn't be a cheap rip off of the 60s version of James Bond. Thankfully, Kingsman is quite fun actually. Vaughn and Jane Goldman adapted the book quite well here, keeping everything moving swiftly and not letting any dull moments slow it down. Speaking of James Bond, this film manages to take the best parts of it and use it without looking like a copycat. Samuel L Jackson's villain for example, has a fear of blood and speaks with a lisp, and has a henchwoman with killer blades on her feet. The gadgets used by the Kingsmen are reminiscent of Bond too, such as umbrellas that double as guns and shields, shoes with hidden blades, exploding lighters and poison pens.

Credit must also be given to Vaughn for balancing the action, humour and some drama quite well. The drama comes from Galahad wanting to make up for indirectly causing his friend's death by doing right with his friend's son. Eggsy is a struggling kid who has potential, but is wasting it by letting his stepfather and other street kids beat him up, and now needs to learn the hard lessons of life from Galahad. The Kingsmen training program also teaches him to care about others and work as a team, something he hasn't learned before.

Acting wise, Colin Firth is surprisingly good as lead action man Galahad aka Harry Hart. He might still seem a bit effeminate in his demeanor at times, but he handles the action sequences splendidly and plays the perfect father figure to Eggsy. As for Eggsy, Taron Egerton shows great promise in the role, making him a likable kid with plenty of charm. Jackson is rather hilarious in a good way as Valentine, but for me, the best character is Mark Strong's Merlin. Merlin is like Bond's Q, and Strong proves once again he can play any character in any film, giving Merlin the right balance of intrigue and intelligence as he guides young Eggsy through the training program.

However, Vaughn messed up a couple of things, the first being the action sequences, as in the way it is filmed. Filming it at top speed with the camera moving around constantly only makes the action look cartoonish, which was most evident in the bar fight at the film's beginning. While the much talked about church fight scene looked better, I felt that slowing it down to regular speed would do wonders for it. Secondly, there are certain things that just didn't seem logical, but I can't go into detail without spoiling them for you. The last joke concerning the Swedish princess was also ridiculous, for me anyway.

Overall, I had fun with Kingsman, despite a few flaws here and there. With a bit of polishing, Vaughn would have a classic on his hands. I think a sequel isn't far behind, so here's hoping it will be better. (8/10)  

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