Kingsman: The Secret Service Review

Update: According to Mark Millar via Twitter and his forums,  Kingsman: The Secret Service:

I’ve been waiting to see this film for a while.  I confess I had not heard of the original Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons comic book beforehand.

It was only until we saw the film crew turn up at Dunsfold Aerodrome sometime in September 2013 and start practising a very impressive reverse car chase that I found out all about it.  And was very excited when I heard that Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn were behind the film.

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I had interviewed Jane a while back when she and Matthew were working on the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust.  Even then, I could see that the working relationship between Goldman and Vaughn was a particularly special one.  Since Stardust they’ve gone on to make Kick-Ass, The Debt (albeit screenplay only), X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past (story only).

Jane has also written Britain’s highest grossing horror film to date, the film adaptation of Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black.   In each case, each and every film Goldman and Vaughn have worked on have been very profitable and very well received.

The trailers for Kingsman were exceptionally attractive.  Indeed, they featured the sequence that I witnessed being practiced prior to being shot (later in the evening, with the sideway made up to look like a London street with lights, buses and everything).

Last Thursday I took the day off work and went to see the finished film at the local Odeon.

Let me start off by saying that I thoroughly dislike the modern James Bond.  Over the past decade it’s been far too moody and, well, samey.  Each film roughly follows the previous one and the villains just aren’t as interesting as they used to be.  We should hardly be celebrating a new Bond unless they take a radically different approach to it (like bringing in Idris Elba for starters – no offense to Daniel Craig).

So hooray to Kingsman: The Secret Service.  A film that’s not afraid to take a different look at the spy genre and have honest-to-God FUN with it.  It is a fun film.  It is a hugely entertaining film.  You’ll be hard pushed to enjoy a film that’s enjoying itself at the same time.  You can see that everybody involved had fun making this film.

It’s not a perfect film by any means – some of the visual effects don’t quite stand up to my high standards (for example, I disliked the lighting on some of the green screen stuff which made something artificial even more artificial), and some of the frame rate retimings did something to my eyes which gave me a bit of a headache at times, but perhaps it’s just the way the cinema presented the movie – I don’t know. These are mere quibbles, however.

Something that did bother me more than the technical issues was the frequent references to News Corp. owned properties (Sky News, The Sun, 20th Century Fox).   The Sun, in particular, was a bad move given recent events.

Tch! Tch! Tch! (wags finger)

While Samuel L. Jackson has played villains before, here he’s positively having a ball.   Colin Firth as the mentor to Eggsy, the council estate lad whose father was a Kingsman killed on duty, is surprisingly a bloody good action hero.   Who knew?

There has been much criticism early on – even before the movie was released – that the people had trouble relating to a “chav” as a protagonist.  These people really need to see the film, since the whole idea is being able to change.  As a result, there’s a lovely references to My Fair Lady in there too.  It’s that kind of film.  Besides which, Eggsy even before joining Kingsman isn’t really such a bad guy.

A good chunk of the film is taken up by training sequences, including the cutest pug dog in the universe.   But the main plot is ambitiously crazy – and all the better for it.

But the fight sequences (retiming aside) – bloody hell!  They are exceptional.  Well choreographed, expertly executed (pun intended) – these are some of the best fights I’ve seen committed to film in a very long time.  The camera gets right in there with the action.

The Kingsman: The Secret Service is hilariously far-fetched, fun, explosive, and is pretty much everything I had hoped it to be.  And I want more.

Bond can bugger off.