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Movie review: Kingsman – The Secret Service

Roslyn Hull

Based upon the acclaimed comic book, this is the story of a super-secret spy organisation that recruits an unrefined but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.” imdb

From the moment the credits started, by being formed out of rubble from artillery shells hitting an ancient building, I suspected I was in for a good (albeit irreverent) time.

I was right.

Although this film does seem to be confounding journalists and bloggers alike I enjoyed every moment of it. I’m not proud of that, in fact I really should not have enjoyed some scenes but … I did.

Let me break it down for you. If Jason Bourne was a reaction to the cheesy excesses of James Bond, and Jack Bauer was a reaction to the limitless energy of Jason Bourne, then this is both a reaction to (and a celebration of) all those guys. With a little Get Smart. And King Arthur. And The Man From U.N.C.L.E., with loads of pop culture references. And maybe a couple of scenes that should have stayed in the comic, but more on that later.

I should also mention ladies that Colin Firth is kitted out in Saville Row suits and makes a very cool super spy. Taron Egerton, who plays Egsy (the lead) also has un-be-lievable pecs, not that I was looking.

But I digress. The director, Matthew Vaughn, is a real triple threat – he writes (X-Men: Days of Future Past), he directs (Layer Cake) and he produces (Stardust) – and I have never, ever been bored by one of his movies. Not something I say lightly, although I didn’t see Swept Away (nobody did) and I shied away from Kick Ass 2 as well.

I haven’t read the Mark Millar comic but Millar has an astounding body of work so the story would have been pretty good to begin with and with a little Vaughn magic, well! It is young, it’s fresh, but at the same time it references some of the great spies of the past. It’s irreverent, violent and very funny but there is an underlying message about being gentlemanly and worthy of being a knight.

Yes, the story is derivative but it draws from so many enjoyable sources and is handled so deftly I couldn’t help but like it.

The whole cast have an absolute ball with their roles, including Vaughn regular, Mark Strong, sporting a divine Scots accent as ‘Q’ crossed with the sort of stony faced trainer who usually gets the young hero into the championship bout. Samuel L. Jackson is nutty as the suitably deranged megalomaniac and young Egerton has great charisma, with just hint of the arrogant bastard about him that a good spy should have.

And then there is Colin Firth as the altruistic hero who sees potential in a deadbeat lad from council housing. He fits this role like he was born to it and the fight scenes alone are worth the price of a ticket. The choreography is astounding.

However his final fight scene may turn some audiences off. Just remember the story and don’t focus on that scene. Stay with it, because almost all of the film is worth your attention – and even THAT scene drives the story forward. Mind you, it also offers the best one-liner in the whole movie … and absolutely non-PC gratuitous violence. Something most directors don’t feel comfortable portraying in our serious world, where real violence is so predominant that it just isn’t funny. Still, it does honour the old Hollywood moral code on flawed heroes.

And when you get to the explosions in the baddie’s lair relax, no one will judge you if you laugh out loud because they, like me, will be joining you.


Ros Hull

Roslyn is a writer and storyteller who loves all things Canberra, her family, sci fi and movies – but not in that order. She has worked in museum education since 2001 and has a passion for imparting knowledge to others. Writing is her happy place, particularly if there is a dog at her feet and a coffee in her hand. More about the Author

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