With the recent advent of the "gritty reboot", several film franchises such as Batman and James Bond have turned the camp way down in favor of more serious, realistic themes. These gritty reimaginings have produced mostly favorable results (The Dark Knight, Skyfall), but where does that leave fans of the campy spy thriller? Kingsman: The Secret Service brings a fresh take on the James Bond films of yore, and with hilarious results.
The beginning of Kingsman finds secret agent Harry Hart/Galahad (Colin Firth) giving his condolences to a widow and her young son, Eggsy (Taron Egerton). Hart was responsible for the death of Eggsy's father, who worked alongside Hart as a secret agent with the Kingsman. As recompense for his carelessness, Hart offers the family a favor, which can be requested at any time or in any form of their choosing. Seventeen years later, Eggsy finds himself in a jam at a police station, and calls upon Harry Hart for that favor. Hart springs Eggsy from the police station, and decides to recruit him into joining Kingsman as his protege, and ultimately to foil the population-trimming scheme of technology mogul Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson).
As mentioned before, director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class) clearly is poking fun at the cheesiness and predictability of the early James Bond or Jack Ryan films. While Kingsman is not without its flaws, it makes up for them handsomely with its ridiculous and silly humor as well as over-stylized violence. Though that's not always a winning formula (see Wanted), Vaughn manages to blend hyper-violence with tongue-in-cheek humor in a fun, enjoyable manner. Something about watching a handsome Englishman like Colin Firth dispose of dozens of people in a brilliantly choreographed, bloody brawl with Free Bird blaring the whole time is almost impossible not to chuckle at.
The cast of Kingsman is as good as anyone might expect. Samuel L. Jackson is in true form as the foul-mouthed villain, while Colin Firth alternates between a chivalrous gentleman and an indomitable bad-ass. Also worthy of some praise is newcomer Taron Egerton, who ends up being the backbone of the film with more screen time than anyone else in the cast.
Kingsman is what would come out if you took the best parts of Austin Powers, Kick-Ass, and the entire James Bond catalog and rolled them into one. It doesn't pretend to be anything more than it is, which is a fun, absurd ride from start to finish.