MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’

Written by J.T. Johnson

4-stars

DIRECTOR: Matthew Vaughn
CINEMATOGRAPHY: George Richmond
WRITERS: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
MUSIC: Henry Jackman, Matthew Margeson

Colin Firth leads a cast of veterans and newcomers alike to deliver a violence-filled homage to James Bond films from director Matthew Vaughn based on “The Secret Service” comic book by Mark Miller. The movie feels like a mash-up between “Kick-Ass” and Vaughn’s other hit film, “X-Men: First Class”. While the violence is explosive, the story also features a plot element about a group of young cadets training to become Kingsmen.

The overall story is simple enough. Kingsman agent Harry Hart (Firth) lost a man 17 years ago while on a mission. In the present, the late agent’s son Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) is a screw-up who has potential. After bailing Gary out of jail, Harry offers him a chance to fill a position that was recently vacated in the organization.

While Harry investigates a mysterious plot by technology tycoon Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), Gary takes most of the movie to train with the other cadets in brutal trials. The main world domination plot smells of old-school Sean Connery Bond films. In fact, the film is so self-aware of this plot that both Harry and Richmond have a showdown by simply discussing their love for the more absurd films in 007’s history.

The story is good, but it can tend to lag a bit in certain places. In fact, through a couple of the training sequences for the cadets, I found myself wanting the film to return to the absurd yet fun plot between Harry and his investigation of Valentine. While I can’t help but notice this lag, it is not enough to totally condemn the entire film and is only a minor complaint.

The action sequences are another highlight of the movie. In fact, I was sold on the film the moment Harry has a confrontation with some hoodlums in a pub. The crazy action and often times over-the-top violence is very similar to Vaughn’s other violent opus “Kick-Ass”. In other words, not only is it super charged, it is highly stylized and choreographed throughout.

There are a couple of moments where some shoddy CGI effects take over, but like the aforementioned drag, it’s not enough to bring the whole film down. I just wish they had taken a little extra time to finish the effects and bring them up to the level of the live-action fights they’re integrated with.

While all of the actors featured in the film are great, Firth is the stand-out amongst them all. Not only does he have the style and sophistication to be a proper gentleman spy, he also has some pretty awesome action sequences that show just how lethal Harry Hart can be at times. In fact, Firth’s performance makes me want to see him in more films such as this one.

This film has all the potential to be a true blockbuster. It has the violent insanity of Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass”, but it is also infused with the style of “First Class”. While the story does lag a little and there are some questionable effects shots, this movie is ultimately worth seeing and a good start to 2015’s blockbuster season.

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