Review | Kingsman: The Secret Service
“Nowadays they’re all too serious for my taste”, replies secret agent Harry Hart when megalomaniac Richmond Valentine asks his opinion on spy movies. It’s a fact that Hollywood is now on a more realistic “Nolan” approach for most of it’s productions, and I’m personally very found of some of the results: Casino Royale, for example, is my favorite 007 movie. But when a propositally over-the-top satirical movie like Kingsman: The Secret Service begs us to dive into it’s nostalgic extravagant world, you don’t think twice.
The plot marks yet another adaptation from a Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons comic book to screen, presenting a top secret british espionage agency: Kingsman. When one of the twelve agents is murdered (there are twelve, like King Arthur’s Round Table, huh), Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is given the task of looking for a worthy substitute, and finds it in young petty thief Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton). While Eggsy tries to adapt and survive the agency’s rigorous selective process, Hart investigates internet billionarie Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), who just might be plotting a global genocide.
My biggest concern regarding Kingsman was that the all those “teen spy” movies never worked properly, with Agent Cody Banks and the awful Stormbreaker serving as major examples. But Matthew Vaughn’s film (who’s on an incredible phase following Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class) works mainly for being a strongly metalinguistic story, and embracing the goofy elements from Roger Moore’s time as James Bons in the 1970s: groovy gadgets, machine gun umbrellas and even a deadly russian goon who has sharp blades for legs. It’s all about worshiping the classic gentleman spy, keeping the elegant suits – clearly, Kingsman’s HQ is located under a tailor shop -, the “manners maketh man” philosophy (Colin Firth having a point of beer after beating the crap out of a gang in a pub is the highest class as it gets) and, of course, the british accent portraited by Firth and the omniscent Michael Caine.
Speaking to accents, let’s talk about Samuel L. jackson’s brilliant composition to baddie Valentine. From his swag look (including leather caps and orange sneakees) to the bold decision of pronuncing all of his lines with a lisp, Valentine is one of the most out of the ordinary antagonists in recent memory: if Firth drinks beer after a fight, Valentine has a McDonald’s with wine during a fancy dinner. His masterplan is just another variation of the “destroy the world” cliché, but is very well put by Vaughn and his partner Jane Goldman’s script (there’s a science speech, comparing the world with the imunologic system, and also a religious one, when Valentine brings up the Noah’s Ark tale), also provinding a visual spectacle of stylish violence, like the firework head bursting extravaganza and already controversial church scene. Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson’s minimalist musical theme for the character is also memorable.
But even surrounded by massive action scenes and solid work from his veteran co-workers, newcomer Taron Egerton proves himself a very charismatic actor, with enough talent to lead a big movie like this. Egerton’s Eggsy may look like a straw bully, but at the time the script explores his past and his heart (though looking, but digs pugs and My Fair Lady), Egerton becomes more and more likable. And his transformation from street smart punk to “Colin Firth” – with the suit, glasses and gelly hair – is very interesting, and worthy of recognition during the excellent visual (and thematic) rhyme Vaughn makes in the ending scene.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is everything a good blockbuster should be, perfectly mixing stylish action with smart, sarcastic humor and sharp meta. An ode to the espionage genre, to leave fans of good entertainment smiling from ear to ear and the notion that nobody does this better than Matthew Vaughn.
Obs: The credits may start rolling, but there’s still a fantastic scene to be showed!