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Movie Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Adam Frazier   |  @   |  

Kingsman: The Secret Service movie review

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Screenwriter: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Mark Hamill, Michael Caine, Sofia Boutella, Sophie Cookson
20th Century Fox
Rated R | 129 Minutes
Release Date: February 13, 2015

Based on the acclaimed comic book created by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar, Kingsman: The Secret Service is the latest film by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class).

The Kingsmen, a super-secret spy organization, recruits Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton), an unrefined but promising street kid, into an ultra-competitive training program to deal with a global threat.

Vaughn, who started out as a producer of films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, has racked up an impressive filmography since his directorial debut in 2004. Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class – there isn’t a bad movie in the bunch, honestly. And Kingsman: The Secret Service might just be the director’s best film yet.

Of course, it’s impossible to talk about Vaughn’s work without mentioning screenwriter Jane Goldman, who has collaborated on every Vaughn film since 2007. Goldman and Vaughn just *get* genre filmmaking. Together, they make irreverent movies with character, humor, and over-the-top action that exist solely to entertain. That’s it – they want to entertain people, and if that means offending a few pretentious snobs along the way, then so be it.

Like Kick-Ass did with superhero films, Kingsman is a crass, violent, and tongue-in-cheek tribute to the James Bond spy films of the ’60s and ’70s. This ain’t Casino Royale – there isn’t a single drop of somber self-importance to be found here, just insanely fun nonsense that takes full advantage of the R-rating and established genre tropes.

In a sad alternate reality, there’s probably a PG-13 version of Kingsman that plays more like Men in Black or R.I.P.D, but thank God for foul language and excessive violence. Another thing to be thankful for? An incredible cast. Joining newcomer Taron Egerton are Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, and Michael Caine – a dream cast of old pros that anyone would want in their film. Somehow, Vaughn has wrangled them together for one film – along with Jack Davenport, Sofia Boutella, and Mark Hamill – to form one of the most fun, surprising ensembles in years.

Delightfully subversive, Kingsman pulls no punches. There’s a scene where the finely tailored Firth visits a fictional version of the Westboro Baptist Church and slaughters a congregation of racist, homophobic rednecks to the soundtrack of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird” that is truly transcendent. Pure anarchy, that’s what we’re dealing with here – but the chaos is so cartoonish that it’s hard to be offended by how much fun Vaughn is having ruffling feathers.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a bold, silly sendup of spy flicks that is deceptively clever and wildly entertaining. Taron Egerton delivers a breakthrough performance reminiscent of John Boyega in Attack the Block, and the shockingly bad-ass Colin Firth commands the screen in a way we haven’t seen before. Vaughn and Goldman have delivered another slick piece of pop art here, the rare February film that can’t be missed.


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