For the most past, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a massively entertaining, delightfully nostalgic escapade, reminding cinema goers of times before action films had to monotonously get darker to get people’s attention. Seeing Colin Firth kick-ass courtesy of Michael K. Vaughn’s signature sensibilities for fantastical violence is a joy and actually rather beautiful, shot like a ferocious, ethereal dream.
Firth plays secret agent Harry Hart, who recruits the ASBO-ridden juvenile Eggsy (Taron Egerton) into the Kingsman agency, revealing that Eggsy’s late father shared the same line of work. Meanwhile, technology tycoon and evil environmentalist Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) has developed and distributed a SIM card with frightening capabilities.
Kingsman toys with the conventions of the spy thriller, deconstructing genre tropes with a sleek, self-aware gloss. Its bombastic pacing sits well between comedy and something more straightforward, building characters and stakes you care about. However, a chauvinistic misstep concludes the film which is extremely poorly considered, jarring the film’s tone with ugly chauvinism. When Eggsy has the key to allow a princess to escape, she offers her hero an orifice which seems like something out of a completely different movie, an Adam Sandler gag cut and pasted into an otherwise stylish caper, leaving behind bewilderment and real surprise a man as accomplished as Vaughn could make such a misjudgment. Along with Samuel L Jackson’s comic-evil lisp (one movie throwback that doesn’t need to return), the longer you have to think about Kingsman, the more bitter the taste becomes despite the majority of the movie being rather wonderful.
Review by David Rank
Kingsman: The Secret Service is out now in the UK. Running time 128 mins. Certificate 15 (UK).