Reviewer:   Jim "JR" Rutkowski
Directed by:
Matthew Vaughn
Written by:
Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn. Based on the comic "The Secret Service" by Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons
Adrian Quinton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong
Length:   129 minutes
Released:   021315
Rated R for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content
“It’s a hurricane of a picture, authoritative and downright fun…for about an hour." 

Director Matthew Vaughn loves comic books, a fact evidenced in his filmography, which largely consists of adaptations including “X-Men: First Class” and the graphic novel “Stardust.” Vaughn also has an affinity for the work of Mark Millar, author of “Kick-Ass” and “Kick-Ass 2.” Their reunion is “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” a big screen imagining of Millar’s comic series (co-authored by Dave Gibbons), which intends to celebrate the spirit of classic James Bond spy movies while indulging in CGI-laden ultra violence. It’s a hurricane of a picture, authoritative and downright fun…for about an hour. The second half of “Kingsman” is a wipe-out of epic proportions, with Vaughn and Millar losing their sense of structure to whip up a painfully familiar frenzy.

Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is a wayward young man who suffered a major loss when his father died under mysterious circumstances long ago. Bright but reckless, Eggsy is targeted by Harry Hart (Colin Firth), with plans to groom the punk into a Kingsman, a secret service organization that leads with Arthurian nobility and inventive weaponry. Hoping Eggsy will follow in his father’s footsteps, Harry puts the boy through the training process, which offers the newcomer a punishing introduction to the ways of saving the world. Joining Arthur (Michael Caine), Merlin (Mark Strong), and fellow recruit Roxy (Sophie Cookson), Eggsy needs all the guidance he can get, soon facing a formidable villain in Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a malevolent billionaire about to launch a secret weapon that will change the world forever.

“Kingsman” doesn’t mess around, getting off to a refreshingly brisk start with the introduction of the secret service, with a botched mission to rescue a climatologist (played with typical gusto by Mark Hamill) from a mountaintop lair exposing the doomed agent’s agility and appreciation for quality scotch. There’s equal time for Valentine and his henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), a deadly amputee with running blades made literal by the addition of razor-sharp edges. It’s a blast of visual might, funky wit, and brutal violence that extends to moments with Eggsy and Harry, who shows off his own skill with a tricked-out umbrella to entice the young man into training. “Kingsman” has a killer opening act, watching Vaughn juggle introductions with stunning ease, securing relationships and raising stakes while staging a few stunt surprises of his own.

“Kingsman” finds its footing during Eggsy’s training period, where his working class background is mocked by his affluent competition, while Merlin cooks up a few deadly challenges involving flooded barracks and a skydiving mission, and gifts each participant a dog to raise. The goal is create a sense of teamwork, instilling the force of the Kingsman and their sense of honor, with Eggsy taking to the stress with ease, impressing Harry, who’s off on his own mission to learn more about Valentine, going undercover as a fellow billionaire to share McDonald’s with the eccentric, who’s a dead ringer for Russell Simmons, down to the askew baseball cap and lisp. The core of “Kingsman” is irresistible at times, toying with spy movie conventions while creating its own world of grenade cigarette lighters, impeccably tailored suits, and a headquarters located on Savile Row, with an underground pneumatic tube travel system to get the agents where they need to go. It’s cartoony and lively, boosted by secure performances from Egerton and especially Firth, who owns the effort as Harry, a gallant but deadly man carrying a heavy load of survivor guilt.

The second half of “Kingsman” loses appeal quickly. While Vaughn and Millar pledge their allegiance to James Bond, the picture eventually transforms into “Kick-Ass 3,” offering an extended climax that showcases swarms of expendable henchmen, exploding head implants, and anal sex. It’s noisy instead of exciting, soon introducing an element of child endangerment to secure urgency already established, giving the whole endeavor a mean-spiritedness it doesn’t need. Vaughn abandons imagination to deliver pure carnage, paying more attention to his flawed visual effects (limitations in budget are easy to spot) than tight storytelling, with a useless mid-movie showboat sequence feature Harry slaughtering a church filled with Westboro-types while under Valentine’s control a harbinger of painful overkill to come. As found in “Kick-Ass,” Vaughn is under the impression the more is less, going apocalyptic with conclusions that only need to pay off established conflicts. “Kingsman: The Secret Service” soon becomes repetitive and obnoxious -- out to punish an audience it was previously content to entertain to the fullest.

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE © 2015 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
All Rights Reserved

Review © 2015 Alternate Reality, Inc.



 " ...a distractingly frenzied picture lacking true satiric aim, making the oncoming mess of ultra-violence more troubling than rousing." (JR)

"...a thrilling, exciting and hugely entertaining work that both fanboys and newbies will enjoy with unequal measure."  (JR)

“Singer has made what is not only the second best film in the entire “X-Men” series, but one that rivals the best super-hero movies of the past."  (JR)