Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Rating



Director

Matthew Vaughn

Screenplay

Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn (Comic: Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons)

Length

2h 9m

Starring

Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Jonno Davies, Jack Davenport, Samantha Womack, Mark Hamill, Velibor Topic, Sofia Boutella, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Taron Egerton, Geoff Bell, Jordan Long

MPAA Rating

R

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Review

Manners maketh man. That’s the principle behind Kingsman: The Secret Service, a high-key, stylized spy seriocomedy. Director Matthew Vaughan has assembled a crackling team of British thespians to perform as a super-secret organization that operates even farther outside of the normal discretion of MI6.

Taron Egerton plays a street tough, the son of a former Kingsman agent killed in the line of duty. When put forward by Galahad (Colin Firth) to replace another prominent Kingsman, he must outwit, outplay, and outlast his upper class competition to earn his place within the Kingsman organization. Complicating matters is a nefarious plot by a prominent tech billionaire (Samuel L. Jackson) to help protect the world from climate change through extreme and reprehensible means.

Along for the ride, and all having the time of their lives, are Michael Cain as Arthur, the leader of Kingsman; Mark Strong as the organization’s tech guru, Merlin; Sofia Boutella as Jackson’s personal assistant and bodyguard; Jack Davenport as agent Lancelot; and Mark Hamill in a brief cameo as a climate scientist. Fun is what these people are having and, through them, so do we.

Unlike Vaughan’s filmmaking contemporary Zack Snyder, Vaughan doesn’t focus on hyper-stylized visuals to delight the audience. Grounding them all in reality, Kingsman has the gloss and sheen of a James Bond film with the break-neck pace and sheer lunacy of a comic book film. That’s by design as the film is based on the comic by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. Vaughan adapts the colorful source material for the big screen alongside screenwriter Jane Goldman.

What they achieve is an inventive, creative modernization of the Bond mythos delivering it into the hands of a crass young man pulled off the street by a seemingly uptight father figure who sees his potential. The upper echelons of the Kingsmen has been dominated for so long by the children of the wealthy that it has lost focus on the lower class people for whom they ideally serve. By blending the gutter rat drive and work ethic with the more specialized training of the Kingsman secret service, Galahad hopes that the organization will thrive and that it will begin to think outside of the tight-knit box they’ve built around themselves.

Egerton brings to the role a plucky determination that suffuses the character with credibility as both a wayward street criminal out of his element and a determined young man hoping to live up to the incredible expectations Firth’s grounding force puts in him. Firth is likewise perfectly cast easily able to blend that stiff-upper-lipped haughtiness of his fellow Kingsmen with the paternal confidence that the audience and Egerton’s Eggsy must know so they can feel that everything will turn out all right for all of them in the end.

Kingsman: The Secret Service does precisely what it sets out to do: entertain the audience with an espionage thriller with comic underpinnings. A delightful cast and a bonkers, but believable, premise help bring viewers willingly along for the ride. The creative action sequences, rich fascinating details, and the macabre third-act fireworks display will all put a smile on your face.

Review Written

November 9, 2020

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