Kingsman: The Secret Service

Film Review by Josh Slater-Williams | 28 Jan 2015
Film title: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Michael Caine, Sophie Cookson, Sofia Boutella, Mark Hamill, Jack Davenport, Samantha Womack, Hanna Alström
Release date: 29 Jan
Certificate: 15

Reuniting the director, chief screenwriter and source material scribe of Kick-Ass (Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Mark Millar respectively), Kingsman: The Secret Service is similarly concerned with cartoonish hyper-violence and lame shock tactic vulgarity. It too has the sense of humour of the stereotypical straight teenage male, and also takes the form of a boneheaded “subversion” of a beloved action subgenre (superheroes last time, spy fiction this time). It’s largely insufferable.

Colin Firth plays a top agent (or Kingsman) of a secret organisation that’s not too dissimilar from an extraterrestrial-free Men in Black – except everyone’s white. Part-time Savile Row tailor, full-time soldier and spy (no word on his tinkering abilities), he brings in Eggsy (Egerton), a young working class lad with a troubled home life, as a new recruit for the traditionally snobby spy circuit when one of their own is slain in mysterious circumstances. That slaying comes courtesy of billionaire business mogul Valentine (played by Samuel L Jackson) and his henchwoman, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), who does things with her bionic legs that wouldn’t look out of place in Ichi the Killer. Valentine has a nefarious plan to wipe out most of the world’s population, so it’s naturally up to the Kingsman crew to stop him.

An overlong, unfunny slog, Kingsman gets by at times on a couple of good notes. Egerton has flashes of charisma, Mark Strong is reliably... er... strong as this story’s version of both Bond’s Q and Men in Black’s Rip Torn, and the concept of 'Colin Firth: Action Hero' has some inescapable intrigue. That latter point is mostly undone, however, by director Vaughn’s shoddy, headache-inducing action sequences, where lucidity and spatial coherence are abandoned for a constant fast-forward approach best described as someone mimicking Zack Snyder’s oft-mocked fight scenes from fellow comic adaptations 300 and Watchmen, except forgetting to do the slo-mo part before the manic speedup. They’re not helped by consistently plastic-looking CGI and some terrible green screen work.

An ugly film dressed up in a cheap suit, the flaccid Kingsman is less biting, transgressive Bond tribute, and more akin to a gorier, swearier Stormbreaker. It ends on an anal sex joke, all while having babbled out of its own arse for the preceding two hours.

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