#REVIEW: “KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE”
Review by David Baldwin for Mr. Will Wong
The titular Kingsman are a group of covert English Spies who defend against the World’s most terrible threats. For no explainable reason, they are all codenamed after the Knights of the Roundtable. After losing one of their own, the Members are given the opportunity to choose one candidate to train and compete to become the next Member. Galahad (Colin Firth) chooses the troubled street youth Eggsy (Taron Egerton) as his Candidate. And as Eggsy begins his training, Galahad begins to look into a real global threat stemming from Tech Genius and Billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson).
It sounds a bit convoluted and takes a short while to find its footing, but Kingsman: The Secret Service is a total blast. Matthew Vaughn already impressed with his take on Mark Millar‘s Kick-Ass, but Kingsman elevates his bravado Filmmaking style to new heights. Everything about the Film is absolutely absurd, walking the thin line between serious and hilarious with gleeful abandon. It very keenly pays homage to Spy Films of the 1960s (specifically James Bond), and has a lot of fun playing with the tropes and stereotypical elements – frequently breaking the fourth wall in the process. It does not work as a full-on parody, but as with Kick-Ass, Vaughn subverts the Genre and creates a ballsy, altogether original idea that twists the original narrative into something else entirely.
The Film’s major success lies mainly with Firth. Always the dapper English Gentleman, he unleashes a side you would have never expected. Think of Liam Neeson‘s Bryan Mills in Taken with a dash of 007, but hopped up on speed. He brings the same amount of intensity and enthusiasm he brings to all of his Roles, but acts daringly against type — and he looks like he is having an insane amount of fun doing it. Some of his one-liners are absolutely hysterical. The same goes for Mark Strong, playing against type as the Head Trainer Merlin. It is a very nuanced and relaxed background performance, not amongst his usual scene-chewing villain roles. But it works increasingly well as the Film goes on. Jackson‘s silly lisp initially takes away any sort of satire or parody he may be going for in the Role. But thankfully, it quickly becomes as menacing and ridiculously evil as you would expect. His back and forth with his Bodyguard Gazelle (Sofia Boutella – wearing deadly sharp metal prosthetics for legs) are some of the best moments in the Film.
Egerton is a bit of a mixed bag. The relative Newcomer (and potential future Spiderman) has a very shaky start in the Film, taking a long while to really become convincing in the Role. He does fine as a one-dimensional wiseass, but the real power and electricity of his performance is not unlocked until halfway through the preposterously deranged Third Act. Once he breaks out of the confines of the narrative and goes all in, he is just as bad-ass as the Film needs him to be, and he appears to have just as much fun as we are having watching the Film. He manages to hold his own against everyone thankfully, but I cannot help but think he could have done a better job fleshing the Character out.
Kingsman is outrageous, chaotic fun from start to finish. It helps to have some knowledge of 007‘s exploits before venturing in, but it does not take away at all from how brazenly entertaining the Film is. Vaughn has truly outdone himself here, and you may never look at Firth the same way ever again. And with the majority of 2015 left to come, it is going to be very hard to top a fight scene scored to Lynyrd Skynyrd‘s Freebird.
20th Century Fox Canada release THE KINGSMAN on Friday, February 13, 2015.