I have often been accused of being an easy viewer, something that I occasionally admit to myself after having enjoyed what I know to be a thoroughly bad film. But reviewing films, or anything for that matter, is really all about personal choice and opinion, borne out of the specific life experiences that either hone your tastes towards only the lofty and arty or sometimes allow you to enjoy (having put aside your cerebrum) the thoroughly ridiculous.
That being said, I truly doubt that anyone with a sense of humour would hate Kingsman: The Secret Service – the latest film directed by Matthew Vaughn, who produced Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998) and Snatch (2000), and who now has quite the pedigree as a maker of blockbusters after also having directed Kick-Ass (2010) and X-Men: First Class (2011).
Adapted from a comic called The Secret Service by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar, the film itself is a hilarious (but sometimes also oddly serious) spoof on the good old British Secret service, and in particular to a certain fictitious agent, with its age-old traditions, reverence to “Queen and country”, and commitment to gadgets that should have become obsolete in the age of the smartphones.
The plot centers around a shadowy group of spies (though not government affiliated) called the “Kingsmen” who operate using code names such as Arthur, Galahad, and Lancelot while not necessarily sitting at a round table.
When Lancelot (Jack Davenport) is killed under suspicious circumstances, Arthur (Michael Caine) calls for a replacement pushing all the Kingsmen into choosing a candidate each, overseen by Merlin (Mark Strong).
It is Galahad (the wonderful and very talented Colin Firth), that throws a spanner into the mix when he selects Gary Unwin aka Eggsy (played by newcomer Taron Egerton) as his protégé, driven partly by guilt (Eggsy’s father died saving Galahad on a mission), partly by gut instinct, but mostly by slight awe at Eggsy’s very specific “flying by the seat of my pants” style and boyish charm.
All kinds of antics ensue during Eggsy’s training alongside his Oxbridge educated competitors, allowing us a particularly captivating introduction into a fantasy world of intrigue where a spy’s coming of age is heralded by the commissioning of a bespoke, bulletproof suit from Saville Row.
As people are betrayed and Eggsy struggles to save the world from a crazed tech billionaire, aptly named Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), the jokes and the bullets fly. The extreme violence and action sequences are suitably stylised to keep you from throwing up in your seat, and the send offs as well as the tipped hat to the Bond films are so clever and charming that you will almost forgive yourself from being so thoroughly entertained by such a piece of fluff.
Watch the trailer