Mark Strong, who plays Merlin in Kingsman: The Secret Service, stated at one point that his latest film would be to Bond what Kick-Ass is to superhero movies – and he was spot on. It’s a spoof that pays homage to classic spy flicks all the while reinventing the genre for modern audiences. Matthew Vaughn’s latest feature is gushing with over-the-top cartoon violence, foul language and balls-to-wall action. In other words, it’s an absolute blast!
Kingsman is a covert international spy organization located in London with its members consisting of mostly upper class “gentlemen” with code names borrowed from Arthurian legend. Galahad/Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is the first of the organization’s members to be introduced. While on a mission in the Middle-East in 1997, things turn tragic when his fellow Kingsman is killed after sacrificing his life to save his crew. Out of guilt, he visits the family of his deceased partner, leaving his young son a medal with a phone number on the back.
Flash forward 17 years, and the child is now a young man named Eggsy (Alex Nikolov). He’s a common thug who gets himself into trouble that’s so deep he can’t get himself out. As a last resort, he calls the number on the back of the medal and soon finds himself in the middle of a gut-wrenching spy training program – one that could land him a job as a Kinsgman or six feet under.
The exposition was a bit lengthy, but the history of the Kingsman organization and the characters’ back stories were intriguing enough that I wasn’t bored. Once the action gets going, however, it doesn’t stop. From an eye-popping brawl inside a church to an intense showdown between Eggsy and a deadly chick with prosthetic legs that function as razor sharp blades, the action is top-notch – and bloody!
The entire cast deliver outstanding performances, but Samuel L. Jackson and Mark Strong steal the show. Jackson plays the villainous Richmond Valentine, a classic Bond-like antagonist. He’s a shady billionaire with a hilarious lisp and an evil plot to eliminate most of the world’s population in order to stop climate change. Strong plays Merlin, a tech-savvy “gentleman” and the go-to guy for funky gadgets and blunt answers.
Matthew Vaughn is quickly becoming one of my favorite directors. He has a knack for turning a blood-bath into side-splitting comedy, and film makers like Quentin Tarantino would undoubtedly be proud. I’m anxious to see which genre Vaughn reinvents next. Might I suggest horror?
Kingsman: The Secret Service is fun, fast-paced and a stunning spectacle. Slick editing, carefully selected tunes and a clever script make for a solid contender for one of the year’s best action flicks.