The last time director Matthew Vaughn adapted a comic book written by Mark Millar, we got “Kick-Ass”. Then after giving a much needed shot in the arm to the X-Men universe Vaughn goes back into another crazy hyper-kinetic world created by Millar.
“Kingsman” is a secret society that protects the world ‘James Bond’ style. With spies named for knights of the round table with Michael Caine as Arthur, because really, who else could it be? Colin Firth is Galahad a proper, but deadly spy who is out to recruit a young man whose father died serving as a Kingsman. The boy is Eggsy (Taron Egerton) a street-wise kid with the proverbial chip on his shoulder. He along with several other candidates are chosen to possibly be the next Lancelot. The film then turns into a training movie with young Eggsy and his group ala “The Right Stuff” or more like the training montage from “X-Men: First Class” only a tad too long. At the same time the film follows the formula of a typical spy thriller complete with gadgets, henchmen, clever quips, and a unique villain named Valentine played by Samuel L. Jackson, who hasn’t been in a role that fit him this good in years. Jackson also makes a choice with his character that works really well mostly because it’s not played for too many laughs and it’s never mentioned.
Also like Vaughn’s adaptation of “Kick-Ass” this film suffers from slight identity crisis, teetering on the line between poking fun at the spy movies and trying to be a legitimate entry into the genre. Though the “Kingsman” is funny and at times really funny, the outrageousness goes from the extreme, especially in a scene in a church, to a moments where the pacing feels a little off. At times there are just two characters talking about…stuff. But then the crazy comic book violence kicks in again to keep you entertained. Another reminder that this is not one of “those” spy movies, in case you forget, several of the characters actually remind you throughout the film. Which screenwriting 101 is always “show us don’t tell us”.
Over all though “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is a lot of fun and does what it should, the characters play their roles and follow the steps with only slightly changing it up to keep it fresh. It’s not really Austin Powers, nor is it James Bond, but a fun blend of both. Which is a most welcome sight to be sure, especially when you consider all the garbage that usually comes out in January and February.
–Robert L. Castillo