Kingsman: The Secret Service

 

starstarstarhalf

 


A James Bond spoof that's as smart and hilarious as it's very violent and rather silly.

   
Kingsman The Secret Service

Fight club: Colin Firth (right)

 

The star billing on the poster may belong to Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Caine, but make no mistake, this is a Mark Millar movie. Millar, a comic book enthusiast, has created a whole slew of popular titles, from Marvel Knights Spider-Man and Ultimate Fantastic Four, to Wanted and Kick-Ass, the latter two being adapted into highly successful films. 

 

At heart a gleeful, rather sick James Bond spoof, Kingsman is more in keeping with the Alex Rider franchise than Johnny English, albeit with lashings of bad language and gratuitous violence. Taron Egerton is ‘Eggsy,’ the cocky, blue collar, free-running youth recruited by a crisp-vowelled Colin Firth who knows the full measure of a gentleman. Quoting Ernest Hemingway, he tells Eggsy: “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

 

Egerton is a far more engaging presence here than he was as Vera Brittain’s brother Edward in the recent Testament of Youth, not unlike a young Ewan McGregor (who, incidentally, played Alex Rider’s Uncle Ian in the film of Stormbreaker). Bucking the trend of the Oxbridge tradition of the Kingsman Secret Service, Eggsy is allowed to undergo a series of punishing tests – along with his aristocratic peers – to see if he is true Kingsman material. Meanwhile, Colin Firth’s Harry Hart is attempting to uncover the sinister plot of a megalomaniac internet billionaire (a lisping Samuel L. Jackson) who has elaborate plans to stop global warming. 

 

Much of Kingsman: The Secret Service is enormous fun, and is unlikely to disappoint fans of the original comic. It is pretty safe in the hands of director Matthew Vaughn, whose back catalogue includes the equally slick, sick and entertaining Kick-Ass, another Millar comic-book adaptation co-scripted by Jane Goodman. If much of it is too terribly silly, there is also a good dose of the smarts. There is some nifty dialogue, as well as one explosively memorable sequence set to the music of Elgar’s ‘Pomp and Circumstance’ firework finale. There’s also an irresistible henchwoman in the form of Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), a ruthless assassin whose lower legs have been replaced by racing blades with lethal facility. She makes Lotte Lenya’s Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love seem positively endearing.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine, Sophie Cookson, Sofia Boutella, Samantha Womack, Geoff Bell, Edward Holcroft, Mark Hamill, Jack Davenport, Hanna Alström.
 
Dir Matthew Vaughn, Pro Matthew Vaughn, David Reid and Adam Bohling, Screenplay Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, based on the comic book by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, Ph George Richmond, Pro Des Paul Kirby, Ed Eddie Hamilton and Jon Harris, Music Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson, Costumes Arianne Phillips.
 
Marv Films/Cloudy Productions/Shangri-La Entertainment/TSG Entertainment-20th Century Fox.
128 mins. UK/USA. 2014. Rel: 29 January 2015. Cert. 15.