Throw away all preconceived notions of a prim and proper British secret agent movie and prepare yourselves for a ride like no other.
This is the fourth time in the five movies that Matthew Vaughn has directed where he has also been the producer. The lone exception is X-Men: First Class. And to his credit he’s performed admirably in the dual role each and every time. His directorial debut, Layer Cake was well received by both audiences as well as critics. And that momentum never let either. Stardust and Kick Ass also brought smiles to critics and fans alike. As a matter of fact, according to Rotten Tomatoes the lowest rating on any of these movies is 76% and one could argue that none were guaranteed hits going in. The man knows exactly how to construct a favorable tapestry in which to entertain a wide spectrum of people.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is a James Bond movie on R-rated steroids. The plot is pretty straight forward and very familiar with these types of movies. You’ve got your suave veteran British agents Galahad (Colin Firth) and Merlin (Mark Strong) who in addition to trying to save the world are seeking a replacement to their fallen comrade, Lancelot (Jack Davenport). One of the new hopefuls is Eggsy (Taron Egerton) who had previously met Galahad some 17 years earlier. Eggsy is a troubled, yet talented youth with great potential to do good. The antagonist of the movie is Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) who has his own vision of how the world needs to evolve in order to survive and has the means to make it come to fruition. The only thing standing in Valentine’s way is this mysterious Kingsman organization.
Matthew Vaughn does a great job bringing everything together that plays out like a beautiful opera filled with action, humor, strong language and violence. All of the pieces are well placed with the casting done to perfection. Samuel L. Jackson as Valentine will likely be the main talking point as well he should be. It’s been a long a time since he’s owned a role like this. His Django Unchained performance was probably the last “very memorable” character he played but in Kingsman: The Secret Service he has much more screen time which is more time to shine. Taron Egerton is a relative newcomer with his credits limited pretty much to a single UK television series. He definitely didn’t seem to be out of his element whilst sharing the screen with acting heavyweights Firth, Jackson and Michael Caine. Assuming Vaughn is paying homage to the old Bond flicks there has to be a sidekick to the main villain that has an interesting quirk to their character. He delivers in the way of Gazelle, played by Sofia Boutella who has mostly made her way using her legs and feet as a dancer. Her character has no legs but what she does have is an impressive, and deadly set of blades (think Oscar Pistorius).
Even with a runtime of 129 minutes there seems to be something interesting and/or entertaining going on in every scene so time flies by without a second thought. Kingsman: The Secret Service is sheer fun to be enjoyed by a mature audience based on the violence and strong language. It feels much more like a middle of June movie than it does a middle of February one. I can’t help but wonder if it would have been better suited for a summer release. Either way I feel that it’s very much worth the price of admission and should have audience members leaving with a smile on their faces. This is a great way to shake off those winter blues while going out to have a good time at your local theater.