Director: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Sophie Cookson, Michael Caine, Sofia Boutella, Mark Hamill, Jack Davenport and Samuel L. Jackson
Plot: When a Kingsman agent is killed on a mission, Harry Hart (Firth) is tasked with finding a new recruit, setting his sights on a council estate delinquent, Eggsy (Egerton).
2015 will be the year of the Spy movie. The giants of the year are clearly Mission Impossible 5, followed by Guy Ritchie’s dabbling in the genre with TV remake, Agents of U.N.C.L.E. Then we also have to wonder what Melissa McCarthy’s comedic take on Spy could do for the box office and even, then I cannot escape the feeling that I am forgetting one big, spy movie… But, first and foremost, we have Kingsman: The Secret Service, the early bird of the year. It is an easy one to write off, Vaughn almost becoming the British Tarantino, his movies fun but dismissible as pop culture celebrations rather than stories in their own right. However, for anyone that has watched Kingsman, they will know that rather than letting the audience dip their toe into the spy genre early on in the year, Kingsman sets the bar stupidly high for the rest of the genre to hit. Your move, Mr. Bond.
It starts off fairly routine. Colin Firth is Harry Hart, code name Galahad, and super spy. Right from the off, this is Colin Firth as we have never seen before. As someone who has always suspected there was more to the actor than his awkward British love interest, watching him play Bond was a dream come true. Firth swaggers through the movie with the cool and sophistication of a cross between Moore and Brosnan, perhaps his hybrid more threatening than the two put together. Hart is asked to suggest a replacement for another agent who was killed in action. Cue Taron Egerton, who is an actor to keep an eye out for. Street kid Eggsy walks right off the set of Kidulthood, but in a few beats, he has proved himself to be so much more than the stereotypical London kid. There is a softness to the character, heart flickering in between his car theft antics and macho man bravado. When Firth enlists him into the training program, this makes his slow transformation into gentleman spy so much more believable. Perhaps there is no transformation, as even when Eggsy is suited up and given as many gentleman gadgets as he can get his hands on, that rough edge is still there to the character. With a crazy movie like Kingsman, it is nice to have a hero who is so grounded and charismatic. Both Egerton and Firth lead the way in the first arc, their stories splintering out into two parts. Egerton goes through the job interview from hell, pitted against a bunch of Oxford and Cambridge Bond wannabes and thrown out of helicopters without a parachute, while Firth sets his attention to possible megalomaniac, Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson is literally the only actor that springs to mind when it comes to handling a bad guy in Vaughn’s wackiest movie yet – the man is phenomenal here). It’s all very promising, but where is the promised madness? The Kick-Ass version of 007?
Perhaps we should have realised that it was always there ticking away in the background. The F-Bomb is dropped in unexpected places, an early punch-up in a local pub screams Vaughn. However, it is easy to see the exact moment where this movie explodes into full-on madness. Let’s just call it the church scene, which is definitely up there for one of the greatest action sequences of the year, and be done with it! However, it doesn’t slow down from there, a shock plot development and unexpected twist coming back to back moments afterwards. And then it is just a case of finishing the movie with a Bond climax. If I had to fault this movie in one place, it would be the totally ludicrous evil plot that Samuel L. Jackson cooks up, but when the finale kicks off, plot contrivances no longer matter. We have a countdown to the end of the world, a group of bad guys to be bumped off and action so good it has been the Bond movie we have been craving all these years. It is just camp fun, nonsense at its bloody best. If you can stomach the ultra-violence and craziness of the dark corners of Vaughn’s mind, then Kingsman is your perfect Friday night movie. I absolutely loved it, even the audacious closing frame, which sees Eggsy get his own ‘fading to credits while in bed with a Bond girl’ moment.
Final Verdict: While the silliness gets over-bearing at times, it is hard to call Kingsman anything but glorious. Nobody does it better.