kingsman: the secret service review

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Taron Edgerton, Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Sophie Cookson

First I would like to thank Event Cinemas George Street Sydney for giving me free tickets and the opportunity to go to an exclusive pre-screening of this movie. The two leads Taron Edgerton and Sophie Cookson even attended and assured us that we were in for a treat. Guess what? They were right!

Kingsman: The Secret Service was a fun spy film adventure that’s stamped with Matthew Vaughn’s and comic writer Mark Millar’s respective signature style. The tone and feel was very similar to Kick-Ass. As a fan of Millar and Vaughn as well as Kick-Ass, I had a really good feeling about this film.

Based on the comic by Mark Millar, the movie revolves around Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Edgerton) who gets plucked out of his life and joins the elite British espionage organisation known as “The Kingsmen” by Agent Harry Hart or Galahad, a friend of Unwin’s deceased father (Colin Firth). While with the organisation, he transforms “My Fair Lady” style from a young man in a life of “drugs, petty crime and never having a job” to a gentlemen spy facing with stopping an end of the world event inflicted upon by Richard Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a billionaire philanthropist with terrible intentions for the world. Aiding Unwin, we have fellow Kingsman Roxy (Sophie Cookson) and tech genius Merlin (Mark Strong).

Having just read the comic that this movie is based off, I found that while the spirit and general plot direction remains, the movie enhances the comic’s story with great actors. Also the introduction of new characters makes this film really worth it.

Taron Edgerton brings the main protagonist the life with his portrayal as a young man caught on the wrong side of the tracks but with a heart of gold. His interactions with A-list supporting cast members like Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson and even Michael Caine coupled with the difference in the character’s social background provides great entertainment and hilarity. You cheer and laugh for him in his story, especially at the final scene and what he does to get there.

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The action in the movie was kick ass, literally. Matthew Vaughn, true to his style, brings the action and martial arts scenes to life especially when coupled with the fast, driven and upbeat music which can sometimes be a little odd at times. This is shown in the climatic fight scene which really adds to the humour which audiences can walk away satisfied by. It was also quite hilarious in the scene when he substituted the consecutive blood splatter. You’ll know it when you see it. If you enjoyed Hit-Girl’s fight scenes in Kick-Ass, you will enjoy this movie. The action in the trailer is the tip of the iceberg.

Speaking of the trailer, Colin Firth’s fight scenes and his stint as an action hero here was quite surprising. Normally one would associate him with romance movies such as Bridget Jones’ Diary. However, Firth pulled off the role of a composed Gentlemen spy who can handle himself in a fight, be it with an unruly British gang or people who’ve lost their mind.

Samuel L. Jackson’s character Richard Valentine was a notable difference from the comic. Originally Dr. James Arnold was the big villain with the genocidal plan. His character in the book was okay, and a bit of a loser. Changing him to a character with a loud personality that Jackson is known for pulling off on screen brings a lot of the entertaining humour that sometimes pokes fun at the spy genre itself. Jackson portrays a villain who isn’t one dimensional. He sees himself as a saviour which gives commentary on real world issues of overpopulation.


Another notable difference that wasn’t in the comic was the female presence. In the little interview before the film, Cookson mentions that the film has a good presence of strong female characters doing awesome stuff, something I’ve noticed the comic doesn’t have and I agree with her. Cookson brings a kick-ass female counterpart to Edgerton’s Eggsy. Her arc about overcoming a fear of heights in different scenes within the movie was a high note. Along with her was Sofia Boufella as Gazelle. Her character in the comics was originally a muscleman. The change seemed to make the character more of a nimble and dangerous henchman which I liked.

The film reinvigorates spy movies in a landscape of superhero films in the box office. Vaughn reminds us of how fun it is to use quirky gadgets, fly all around the world and get the girl in the end. It tips the hat to old Bond films while keeping things fresh.

Bring on a sequel!