Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine, Mark Hamill, Sophie Cookson
Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman have a very good track record together, starting with the incredible 2007 Stardust. Since then, they’ve adapted a fair few comic books to the big screen from X-Men to Kick-Ass. In 2015 they worked together to create Kingsman: The Secret Service, based on The Secret Service by Kick-Ass writer Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. The film has led to a sequel and a prequel that’s currently in cinemas.
The Kingsman is a secret spy organisation that operates from a tailor’s shop in London on Savile Row. Seventeen years ago, Eggsy’s (Taron Egerton) father, an agent of the Kingsman sacrificed himself to save Harry Hart’s (Colin Firth) life. Now Eggsy has the opportunity to become one of the agents, taking his father’s place. First, he must survive the tough selection process. At the same time people are going missing around the world and it looks like there’s a mastermind at play.
It’s a comic book version of James Bond. The flash gadgets, stylish suits and evil mastermind planning to destroy the world, combined with over-the-top humour and action. It never feels like it’s a parody of James Bond, but a tribute to the genre. Kingsman takes itself seriously enough to be a thrilling adventure while at the same time being funny and silly. It’s not as goofy as Johnny English, which is never a bad thing.
The action and fight sequences feel like something right out of a comic book. Matthew Vaughn has outdone himself with some incredibly stylish moments, especially the pub fight at the beginning and then the church fight towards the end. It’s entertaining, funny, and incredibly well shot. It’s not overdone either, so every time it happens it feels like a treat.
The film has one hell of a cast. Colin Firth is great, showing us that he could have been James Bond in another timeline. Taron Egerton is excellent as both the snarky chav and the international spy. Michael Caine is just doing what he does best, with style and ease. Mark Hamill is good in his very brief appearance. Mark Strong is excellent as Merlin, one of the agents of Kingsman. The cast are all on top form, bringing their characters to life.
It’s a real shame, but the film isn’t as perfect as it could have been. The story does feel like it should wrap up about twenty minutes before it actually does. The run time is a little over two hours and by the time you get to the end, it does feel it. The final action sequence doesn’t connect in the same way that earlier ones do, because it’s really running on tired legs by that point. There’s also some awkward humour at points that really doesn’t land, especially the final joke. It’s not funny and really leaves the film on a sour note.
Kingsman: The Secret Service, despite its flaws is a really good time. It feels like a punch and energetic comic book and the action is incredible. It’s a great over-the-top adventure.