<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L Jackson, Mark Strong, Sophie Cookson, Sofia Boutella, Michael Caine, Jack Davenport, Mark Hamill
Spy Kids appealed to the 8-year-olds and now Kingsman is here to wow the 16-year-old boys who can LOL at Samuel L Jackson spouting ‘Fuck that’ and ‘Fuck no’.
The trailer is fun and everyone seems to love it but Kingsman: The Secret Service is simply a gimmicky movie meant to please teens who love it when Samuel L Jackson cusses and when senseless violence is portrayed in a cool, slo-mo scene with ‘bitchin’ music! The teenagers in the back row of the theatre certainly loved it but I found they were the only ones cheering and laughing at the gratuitous and psychotically filmed violence ala Kill Bill Vol. 1.
Kingsman is a covert spy agency run by some Brit elite men in suits and old-style spectacles. They’re super slick at fighting and have gadgets to rival James Bond. The script even references James Bond several times and is almost a parody of spy movies. Colin Firth plays Galahad or Harry Hart (his actual name in the film). After the death of his friend Lancelot (played by Jack Davenport) all the Kingsmen must nominate a young person to train and test to fill Lancelot’s place.
Harry decides to go with the son of a former Kingsman and friend who had saved his life 17 years ago. Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is a down and out young lad whose mom is dating a gang boss who beats her but is determined to make something of himself. Kingsman gives him that chance.
Then the routine testing of the youngins begins as they are whittled down. The politically correct brigade has girls thrown in to the mix to compete for the spot left by ‘Lancelot’. Predictable tests are given; some like the sky diving scene are quite thrilling. At the same time we’re introduced to a plot by billionaire eccentric Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) who is trying to stop ‘climate change’ by killing and kidnapping people.
I’ve always found that the jolly ol’ Brit accent enables a lot of poor scripts to glide through to the big screen and look like they’re polished and full of attitude. But when you look at the plot of Kingsman, you’ll find there is very little that it hinges on. Everything else is just slick camera work, revved up nostalgia music and teen-pleasing glory violence. This one particular scene in a ‘church of bigotry’ where Harry massacres the entire congregation is director Matthew Vaughn’s pièce de résistance. But it doesn’t sit well with the more conscientious viewer.
Samuel L Jackson will make all the kids laugh with his lisping tirades and his squeamish behaviour towards the death and destruction he’s responsible for. Colin First is a bit boring and I’d have preferred watching more of Jack Davenport actually. Taron Egerton does his best to keep pace and has the required energy but not the screen presence.
Oh and the film has some boo-boos. Like even though they’re all supposed to use their code names (Knights of the Round Table names) we see the girl agent Roxy (Sophie Cookson) with her jump suit on and she has her real name Roxy emblazoned on the front. Tut-tut.
PS: Watch out for Star Wars’ Mark Hamill in the film. Could you figure out which character he was playing?