“Kingsman: The Secret Service” is, above all, a love letter to old spy moves. It is full of referential humor to the original James Bond films starring Sean Connery and how ridiculous those films could often be. The film knows not to take itself too seriously and therein lies the reason for its success.
The film stars Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) as Harry Hart, a member of the Kingsman, a British Secret Service agency that specializes in well-tailored suits and bulletproof umbrellas. After one of the servicemen is murdered during a rescue mission, each of the Kingsman are responsible for finding a replacement.
Hart finds Eggsy, played by newcomer Taron Egerton (“Testament of Youth”) as his choice. Eggsy is not the typical choice for a Kingsman, as he is not the upper-class gentleman associated with the organization. However, Eggsy’s father was a Kingsman and gave his life in the line of duty and that gives him an “in” to the organization.
Each of the candidates is put through rigorous and deadly training in order to find who will be the replacement. Meanwhile, Harry is investigating Richmond Valentine, played by Samuel L. Jackson, (“Captain America: The Winter Soldier”) a tech genius and billionaire with an evil plan.
The film has a lot of laughs, some based on references to the spy genre and some just genuinely funny moments. While the film does poke some fun at the spy genre and its original campiness, it comes from a place of nostalgic affection.
There is also a lot of violence in the film, which can sometimes feel a bit gratuitous. Those with weak stomachs would probably find the action sequences to be a bit too much. Still, director Matthew Vaughn, who directed another Mark Millar comic book adaptation with “Kick-Ass,” knows how to shoot violence well. It’s very stylized and well-shot.
Firth is absolutely perfect in the role as Harry Hart. He is believable in every aspect of the character. He has the wisdom to be a mentor to Eggsy but also the calmness of a gentleman. Yet when the action sequences start, Firth is completely impressive as an action star.
The acting as a whole in the film is top notch. There’s not a weak actor in the cast, even when it comes to the fairly unknown younger cast. Of course Jackson is a complete scene-stealer, sporting a backward hat and a lisp, he is menacing while also being hilarious. He makes for a great and very memorable villain. The scenes between Firth and Jackson are some of the best in the film. They play off each other so well.
Also to be praised in the film is Egerton, who gives his character emotional weight. He handles the comedic moments as well as the action sequences. Egerton is definitely someone to look out for in the future, as he gives a very impressive performance against acting heavyweights like Jackson, Firth and Sir Michael Caine (“Interstellar”).
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” is a fun and enjoyable film that balances both action and comedy. It boasts an impressive cast that do an amazing job with their silly and over-the-top characters. Of course, heeding the R-rating is crucial as it is violent. Overall, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is great spy comedy with cool gadgets, funny dialogue and quite a few surprises.