Movie Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

From the director of hit superhero films from Kick-Ass to X-Men: First Class, comes one of the most outrageous and head-spinning films of the year so far. Chock full of deadly spies, awesome gadgetry, and bloody excellent action scenes, Kingsman knocks it out of the park, as it delivers a delicious mix of James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Austin Powers (only a tad more mature than the latter). In the end, there's little that is flawed in this epic spy film for the new generation, with expertly-shot action scenes and enough comedic bouts to keep me interested.   

An updated version of the Knights of the Round Table of-sorts, the Kingsman organization works toward making the world a peaceful place, through their own levels of discretion and secrecy. When one of their rookie agents gets killed on a mission to rescue a frightful Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill), his mentor Harry Hart (Colin Firth) must seek a replacement, finding an unlikely candidate in a young street kid, Eggsy (Taron Egerton). Enlisting in the highly-dangerous Kingsman training program, Eggsy must learn what it takes to be a proper spy, learning things from working as a team to taking the necessary risk when the time comes. Pitted against a tech-savvy genius (Samuel L. Jackson) bent on global annihilation, Hart and Eggsy must use every deadly skill and gadget they can to save the world, and bring honor back to a corrupted agency. 

Right when I first saw the trailer for this film, I knew it was going to be one of two things: a forgettable spy parody, almost an ultra-violent Austin Powers, or one of the coolest spy films of this generation. In the end, it was a mix of the two, being both a tribute (and somewhat parody) to past spy films, as well as a raunchy, violent thrill-ride. With an all-star cast, from famous Brits to the legendary Samuel L. Jackson, as well as some of the sleekest action sequences I've ever seen, Kingsman was more memorable than I'd ever thought. With as much excitement, if not more, than depicted in the trailer, this film is the icing on the cake for any action or spy movie fan, taking you back to the days of early James Bond and other classic spy entertainment. While it may have an outlandish plot of hemophobic villains and bullet-proof menswear, Kingsman is one of the wildest action films I've seen this year.

While the mind-numbing action and the bumbling British humor may be prominent aspects of this film, the cast is equally important, as it brings in some of the biggest, and some of the most surprising, names to this wild film. From the man we wish were James Bond, Colin Firth, to the always humorous Samuel L. Jackson, the cast was perfect in this film. Making us feel at home in the England atmosphere with its wide range of English and Welsh actors, Kingsman brings together an amazing cast with Firth, the fan-favorite Micheal Caine, and Mark Strong leading this ensemble of elegant spies. While Caine performed adequately as ever as the man-in-charge in the Kingsman agency, bringing his cynical glare and memorable Cockney accent to his character, and Mark Strong played the strict but comical instructor to Taron Egerton's Eggsy, it was of course Firth who took the spotlight. From mentoring the young and arrogant Eggsy to kicking major ass in one violent church scene, Firth may not be the central character within the film, but that doesn't stop him from playing a memorable bad-ass.

At the center of this wonderful cast, we have the breakout star Taron Egerton, a stark, promising actor that shines in this action flick. Alongside greats like Firth and Caine, Egerton shows no fear as he takes up his persona of Gary "Eggsy" Unwin, a brash street kid with no responsibility, who must transform from a no-good thug to a well-dressed spy. Nearly unknown until this film snatched him up, I was of course skeptical of Egerton, not knowing if he would perform well or not, the actor not ever starring in a lead role in his life. But in the end, Taron brought his A-game to his first blockbuster role, delivering a mix of the cockiness of Robert Downey Jr. and the looks of a young Colin Firth (ironically). Hopefully with a Kingsman sequel in the works already, we'll get even more exposure to the up and coming career of this Welsh actor.

The rest of the cast is unusual, but nonetheless awesome. With Samuel L. Jackson taking up a frighteningly humorous villain role, and a talented dancer Sofia Boutella slicing and dicing as his blades-for-legs henchwoman, the villains of the film are as daring as its heroes. Jackson brings another great performance, lisp and all, as every one of his lines evokes hilarity from the audience. Playing the tech-savvy genius-turned-psychopath Richmond Valentine, Jackson brings his iconic bad-ass humor to this role with no hesitation, making the character his own with a comically ironic fear of blood and an ever-unique speech impediment. Alongside Jackson, another breakout star emerges as the talented dancer-turned-mercenary Sofia Boutella becomes the sharp and deadly Gazelle.

While it might not be for everyone, especially the queasy, the action in the film is violent nonetheless, but only to a degree. A mild-mannered R-rated film, with enough vulgar and blood to go around, Kingsman doesn't just appeal to the violence lovers of Tarantino films. It also throws a bone to classic spy action, just with an updated perspective on what kind of violent excitement fans are craving these days. While it may not be one for your mom or your easily-grossed-out friend, Kingsman is something of a gem in this decade of spy film, with a unique choreography full of expertly-shot fight scenes. From rotating shots to fast-paced jolts, each scene is incredibly filmed to make any movie fan dizzy in awe. While the scenes that are being shot may not be the cleanest in the standards of gut-busting blood-shed, the film holds true to the fact that it's a wild and gritty ride.

In the end, Kingsman: The Secret Service may differ from the source material a bit, it may be full of vulgar stupidity and mindless antics, and it may not be as grandiose as some James Bond films, but it is without a doubt a fun ride for any action and espionage fan. Equipped with amazing gadgetry (reminiscent of the classic James Bond and an awesome addition to this spy flick), a great cast of spies and villains, and a thrilling adventure waiting to be discovered, Kingsman turns this Valentine's Day from a Fifty Shades of Grey holiday to an gritty and outrageously fun vacation in the world of suited secret agents.

I gave this film an 8 out of 10 for its near-perfect cast of Brits, its memorable use of awesome gadgets from poison pens to knife shoes, and its formidable bravery to go up against Fifty Shades on the weekend of romance. If you're a fan of Quentin Tarantino's violent brutality, and you love Edgar Wright's visceral hilarity, you'll definitely love Matthew Vaughn's next bloody hit.                               

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