Not another spy film, I hear you groan. But this one is different – stick with me, and I'll tell you how...
You may have seen the posters for Colin Firth’s new film ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’: Firth in a beautifully cut suit with an umbrella, framed by a woman’s legs ending in running blades. I have to hand it to the advertisers – that poster is an excellent introduction to a film that is unapologetically, unashamedly, bonkers.
Firth plays one of the Kingsmen – a secret agency of rather dapper chaps, led by Michael Caine, and tasked with keeping the world safe (or whatever definition of safe seems most appropriate at the time, though that’s a discussion for another day). Firth’s character Harry sees potential in Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a young man on the slippery slope to career criminality. Eggsy trains to become a Kingsman, while the villain paves the way for his world-ending plan.
And what a villain he is: Samual L. Jackson chews the scenery with relish as Valentine, a lisping megalomaniac afraid of blood but with the resources to turn every mobile phone into a weapon. His plan is to cull the Earth’s population to improve conditions for a select (very wealthy) few. His henchwoman, she of the sharpened shins, Gazelle (underutilised actress Sofia Boutella) likes to kill people with a mixture of parkour and krav-maga, severing limbs and decapitating bodies. While Jackson is clearly enjoying his role, I couldn’t find his affected lisp anything more than an annoying distraction. I’m sure it was meant to add a little more levity to the character, but we all know Jackson could do that easily, without having to resort to gimmicks.
Firth is brilliant, dripping with dry English wit and gorgeously suave. Egerton is rather good as Eggsy: chavvy, rough, but with a heart of gold and determination to match, and with excellent comic timing. Mark Strong is the Kingsmen’s armourer Merlin, flexing his comedy muscles in an unexpected good fit for an actor who would normally play the Firth role. Sophie Cookson, as Kingsman recruit Grace, adds a little femininity to a male-dominated cast, but isn’t at all girly – she’s as tough as all these blokes put together.
The soundtrack is full of energy and in certain moments plays beautifully and hilariously to the action on-screen. The films hustles along at a cracking pace, barely leaving you time to keep it all straight, but at the same time never feels rushed. There are a few little holes here and there in the plot, but they’re easily forgivable. If you’re a spy film fan, you’ll find all sorts of amusement in ‘Kingsman’. There are plenty of little tributes to your favourite Bond films, including gadgets and impossible stunts, and of course, it’s up to the steadfast heroes to save the day.
‘Kingsman’ rolls all of the elements of the best spy capers into a modern and entertaining new package. Unlike the latest Bond films, ‘Kingsman’ doesn’t take itself at all seriously, but there are messages buried in the story if you look for them. Don’t for a moment think you have to though, because at its heart, ‘Kingsman’ is a mad, colourful, romp of an adventure - exactly what a good spy film should be.