Kingsman: The Secret Service
After a rather gruelling week, we decide we need some lightening up. So what better than Kingsman,which ticks all the boxes: star-studded cast (Colin Firth, Michael Caine and Samuel L Jackson); comedy (British); spy thriller (James Bond spoof) and a main character who shares my name – Unwin. What more could you want?
It’s a rather old–fashioned concept, these days, that of being a gentleman. Kingsman is in fact a private secret service company, each member representing knights of the Round Table with Arthur (Michael Caine) at its head. Located in a gentleman’s outfitters in Savile Row, this band of brothers is dedicated to keep the world one fit for gentlemen to live in, and upper-class enough to need bespoke tailoring. That’s when you know it’s a spoof!
But there is a new threat to global security and, indeed humankind. Mad philanthropist-turned-megalomaniac Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) is about to launch a free mobile phone in his bid to control the world. Meanwhile an LSE professor has disappeared as has agent Lancelot, and Galahad (Colin Firth) is charged with finding out what’s going on.
Lancelot’s death leaves a gap at the Round Table and a replacement must be found. Enter ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (newcomer Taron Egerton), streetwise council-estate born and bred son of one of the knights, who died saving Harry Hart aka Galahad’s life. Being a gentleman, Galahad feels he owes a debt to Eggsy and seeks to recruit him against the wishes of Arthur, who is concerned that Eggsy is not cut of the same tailor-made cloth as the rest of them.
The first interview takes place in a pub, where debonair Harry, clad in his bespoke double-breasted suit, single-handedly takes out the gang who bully Eggsy and his bruvs. Apparently Colin Firth did 80% of his stunts, so the slick fight sequence and karate kicks are doubly impressive.
Soon he is being whizzed off from the underground gadget-filled bunker below the Kingsman outfitters to the country house HQ by high-speed bullet train to meet his fellow competitors. The rest are good example of Oxbridge’s (not-so) finest, who taunt Eggsy about his council-house origins. As Merlin (Mark Strong) says, ‘ You are about to embark on the most dangerous job interview in the world’.
The plot is not important, rather it is the sheer fun and pace of the film that becomes a hugely enjoyable romp through stunts and special effects, with lessons on etiquette thrown in, while spotting references to Bond movies and other in-jokes. As in all Bond movies the gizmos are impressive: poison pens, lighter hand-grenades and lethal Rosa Klebb blades that steal out from a pair of Oxfords, all very Casino Royale.
Being Matthew Vaughn (Lock Stickand Smoking Barrel,Layer Cake, Kick-Assto name but a few) and an adaptation of a Marvel comic, co-scripted by his old collaborator Jane Goldman, the film is both predictable and violent but, being a spoof, one simply can’t take it too seriously, as some critics have done. Firth was told to model himself more on David Niven than Roger Moore as an 007 look-alike, and Vaughn takes cues from many series including The Man from UN.C.L.E., The Avengersand The Ipcress File.There is perhaps one serious message in the film, which is that being a gentleman comes from within.I love the hackneyed characterisation: Jackson’s Valentine, with his sinister lisping diction, penchant for old movies and Big Macs is a great villain; Colin Firth’s cool-as-a cucumber British gentleman spy – I’d vote for him as JB any day; Michael Caine being Michael Caine, in fact he becomes Arfur at the end which is a nice touch; Valentine’s side-kick Gazelle’s acrobatic skills on her Pistorius prosthetics are fantastically CGI’d; and I love the pyrotechnics too, a throw-back to another great spoof, Mars Attacks. From the imaginative opening credits to the final scene – just sit back and enjoy it!