Thursday, February 26, 2015

[Review] Kingsman: The Secret Service

On first viewing of the trailer for Kingsman: The Secret Service, it looked like a shabby (and possibly lame) action film arriving early in the year with a wasted cast of Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Kane. But seeing it in its full splendor, it's actually a whole lot of fun.

After some opening prologue, the film flashes forward 17 years to where we meet Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the film's protagonist and apparently ordinary street kid. Harry Hart (Colin Firth), an intelligence agent and former friend of Eggsy's father, recruits Eggsy for an apprenticeship to become a Kingsman, which is a highly secretive organization of independent & international, crime-fighting spies that work for the greater good. Eggsy enters the competitive training program that is described as "the most dangerous job interview ever." Meanwhile, a global threat is being run by supervillain Samuel L. Jackson, and we get the feeling that Eggsy will have to take on a bigger role than he expects.

The action is of the cartoony and quizzical variety, and it works. The fight sequences project a memorable spunkiness in the same way that Kick Ass did, alternating between both fast and slow-motion. The sound cues are the equivalent of "CRASH", "POWS", and "THUDS" in comic book panels, and the wild choreography intentionally renders the violence as less graphic and more humorous. A highlight is an all-out brawl in a courtroom, and one climactic scene has the POV of a video game combined with a laser tag match. There are also some delightfully over-the-top deaths along the way.

At times Kingsman can feel a bit heavy on the origin and setup side, not fully taking off until a couple of later turning points, but after the film is over, the structure begins to make more sense. It definitely isn't on the level of X-Men: First Class, and if this sort of action outing isn't your thing, Kingsman won't do much for you. But if it is your thing, then it's a fine piece of entertainment, and the film's loving homages and fun-pokes at spy flicks of the past is no secret.


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