Friday, 8 May 2015


I'm not sure why I had doubts about this. The lukewarm trailer didn't help - suggesting that Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman (kick-Ass) had learnt to conform. Perhaps it was the opening hour itself, which lacked the pumped-up violence and cutting edge humour of their most successful collaboration. There are moments to savour of course, not least the introduction of deadly henchwoman, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), who has blades for feet and brings a whiff of Ichi the Killer to proceedings. For a good hour though, Kingsman is as mainstream as it gets - with the occasional F-bomb thrown in for good measure.

Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a young kid with too much time on his hands, finds himself recruited by Harry Hart (Colin Firth) - a smooth spy for a covert agency called Kingsman - after the death of a fellow agent. Kingsman swims in fish-out-of-water territory for a good hour, as Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin is trained as both super-spy and gentleman. Pretty Woman and My Fair Lady shared similar themes, with a little more romance and a lot less explosions, admittedly. Meanwhile, an eccentric billionaire threatens to wipe out most of the world’s population. That would be Samuel L. Jackson then.

There's nothing wrong with the first hour, which combines fast-paced thrills, great action sequences, winning performances (particularly from Firth) and a sense of fun severely lacking from hard-edged spy thrillers of late. However, nothing prepared me for the final act, which takes a demented turn for the better and brings back the loopy extremities of Kick-Ass with style to spare. 

One scene is particular, where Harry Hart cuts loose (quite literally) in a crowded church, is exhilarating to the extreme. It was at this point that I knew I was wrong to suspect Vaughn of losing his bite. The shift in tone won't surprise long-term fans, but between them Vaughn and Goldman have given mainstream cinema a right royal kick up the ass. 

Fresh, fun and ferociously entertaining, Kingsman: The Secret Service takes well-worn spy themes and sets them on fire. Think you know what you're letting yourself in for? Think again.

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