Kingsman: The Secret Service: Review
Cast: Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Caine, Samantha Womack
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Mixing (in no particular order) Star Wars, Attack The Block, James Bond, The Hunger Games, Ender's Game, Utopia (The TV series), The Raid, Austin Powers, Kickass, Spy Kids and a dollop of R-rated violence blended with Brit stiff upper lip, Kingsman: The Secret Service is an incendiary piece of film-making by a director who's clearly determined to light the blue touch paper and walk away.
Based on a comic book series The Secret Service written by the legendary Mark Millar and the iconic Dave Gibbons, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Colin Firth stars as Harry Hart, a suave and sophisticated agent.
Tasked with finding a new Lancelot agent for their order after the current one falls (they're all modern day Knights of the roundtable) and with a lisping billionaire (played by Samuel L Jackson) threatening a twisted global scheme, it turns out the future is squarely on the shoulders of troubled kid Eggsy (played by relative newcomer Egerton), who's got to earn his place in the secret organisation - as well as save the world...
Audacious, bold, provocative and in one sequence, extremely violent (albeit perfectly choreographed to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Freebird) and likely to polarise, Kingsman: The Secret Service is somewhat of a risk for Vaughan, whose previous work X-Men was easily more mainstream. (A move that should be commended)
Riffing on Bond with some self-deprecating lines about it not being that type of film before becoming an R rated version of that type film, Kingsman is certainly likely to strike a chord in places. (The no2 of the bad guy is a female blade runner - entirely reminiscent of an Oscar Pistorius / Bond villain / No 2 mash up)
Stoic support comes from Strong, who as ever brings his character A game as Merlin, Michael Caine as the head of the organisation and Jackson who veers close to caricature before pulling it back.
But the real star is Vaughan, who pulls together some never-before-seen stylings and executes them perfectly on the screen in among the usual genesis storyline.
It's exhilarating and visceral viewing that lands squarely on the spectrum of visual overload as it ramps up in parts to extreme cartoon trappings - and herein lies one of the big problems of Kingsman for me.
A sequence in a church shocks, even though it's wonderfully choreographed and timed to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Freebird. It's the only time the violence is ever close to anything real world in terms of brutality - the rest of the film the violence is more of a comic nature; it's ultra-violence in the extreme and while I get that this sequence is supposed to be a shock for all involved, and that it's impressively put together with a daring that's clearly aimed at pushing the envelope, it's the first time in a long while that I've felt conflicted by what's transpired in front of my eyes.
There's a demented madness to Kingsman: The Secret Service; it's a button pusher on many levels (and even presents to us Jack Davenport - the Bond that never was) but its spy trappings, visceral thrills and nutty joie de vivre makes it an incredible cinema experience - despite the concerns.