Kingsman: The Secret Service Review

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Let me open by saying that I found Matthew Vaughan’s 2010 film Kick Ass to be one of the most entertaining things I have seen in recent years.

Others thought it was downright juvenile and in particularly bad taste.

Downright juvenile and in particularly bad taste. It would probably be hypocritical of me to level that same accusation at Vaughan’s recent adaptation of another Mark Millar graphic novel.

But hey, who isn’t a hypocrite?

Kingsman: The Secret Service tells of an Arthurian-themed organisation of ‘gentlemen agents’ who fight for global stability and world peace, their daily heroic acts concealed behind tabloid headlines and celebrity gossip.

Harry Hart (Colin Firth), one such Kingsman, tragically loses a fellow agent the day before he encounters young Eggsy (Taron Egerton).

It’s the usual mentor-mentee set-up: old-hand Hart takes wrong-side-of-the-tracks Eggsy under his wing, proposing him as a candidate to replace his fallen comrade.

Good thing too, as the Kingsman are going to need all the help they can muster to combat the threat of global destruction from Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson).

The film is meant to be fun, breezy and not to be taken seriously.


The current climate of Hollywood-inspired political antagonism makes the latter part somewhat of a tightrope on which the film unsuccessfully teeters.

For example, the opening shot is of an unnamed Middle Eastern location being pummelled by bombs to the sound of American rock music.

In this regard, the movie seems as oblivious to world politics as the Kingsman organisation itself.

Throw in some outrageous product placement for a certain fast food outlet, and you get a film where you can’t quite shake the whiff of jingoism and commercialism.

The film does try to compensate by taking pot-shots at all countries, and indeed social classes, equally. But the controversial culprits escape relatively unscathed, and the only ones who receive any sort of additional mockery seem to be the Swedes.

And then there’s the violence, which is inventively shot but confusingly intended to be hilarious and unsettling by turns.

If you do manage to overcome the above points, there are some redeeming features nestled within proceedings.

Firth is good in the main-ish role, as are Mark Strong, Michael Caine and Jack Davenport in their supporting turns.

Egerton is charismatic and you suspect a bright future awaits. Dancer Sofia Boutella, as Bond-esque henchwoman Gazelle, is also suitably entertaining.

Jackson’s character however is a bit disappointing: the big gag is that he has a lisp. And it is a gag which wears thin pretty quick. It would have been interesting to see if the absence of his speech impediment would have an effect on the morons who guffawed beside me every time Jackson tackled a sibilant.

Overall, the sense of irreverence, playfulness and comic book hyper-reality which I had found in earlier Millar adaptations just sadly wasn’t repeated here.

All that said, don’t be too surprised if teenagers generate enough sales to initiate a franchise.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

January 2015