Kingsman Review: Proper British Spies


Kingsman: The Secret Service is an almost irresistible combination: a solid concept, compelling character actors, a great script, young leads with great potential, and the perfect balance of humor versus violence. Director Matthew Vaughn stirs it together and serves up a delectable portion of comic book-based silliness that is unpredictable enough to keep the audience engaged, while still giving you someone to root for.

This is the story of Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton), who grew up poor and on the wrong side of the tracks, with a loving mother (Samantha Womack) and a father who died when he was a youngstill from Kingsman child. He is recruited by “Galahad” (Colin Firth)–not his real name–to see if he has what it takes to join the Kingsmen, an independent international intelligence agency founded back in the 19th century. A group of elite candidates train together, overseen by “Merlin” (Mark Strong)–also not his real name.

The other trainees, including one young woman, Roxy (Sophie Cookson), all come from upper class backgrounds, unlike Eggsy.

As the recruits get brought up to speed, time does not stand still. Elsewhere Galahad investigates a worldwide string of celebrity disappearances, leading him to billionaire philanthropist and all-around weird guy Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson).

Then things get interesting.

Kingsman posterThere is so very, very, very much to like about this movie. It’s a love letter to classic spy movies (especially Bond), done with love and respect, to both entertain and amuse. The best of it is wrapped around the job done by the cast, particularly the veterans.

Colin Firth is phenomenal as Galahad. He shows the proper British lack of emotion when appropriate, while still conveying all the feels in the world. His fight scenes are choreographed to within an inch of their lives and absolutely proper–he fights with a style all his own. He makes use of Bond-like gadgets convincingly–he should be everyone’s mentor. At least, if Liam Neeson isn’t available . . .

Mark Strong pulls off the trainer/tech wizard/quartermaster role with a very delicate touch, keeping you guessing about his motivations wonderfully, as does Michael Caine as “Arthur,” the head of the Kingsmen.

Samuel L. Jackson as you’ve never quite seen him before, a bit of a dandy, with a slight lisp, bothered by violence and the sight of blood. Of course, his right-hand woman, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), has artificial legs, and some of her prostheses choices tend to make people bleed. A lot.

Eggsy, Roxy, and the rest of the recruits do a fine job of being young, fit, and ready to try anything.

The story is a little silly, but if you just relax and go with it, you’ll have a great time. It’s internally consistent for the most part, fast-paced, and definitely entertaining–what more can you ask of a comic book movie?

Recommended for anyone who likes comic book movies (and can handle R-rated levels of violence), fans of Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, or Mark Strong, or anyone who likes old spy movies.