Matthew Vaughn has gone from being producer on Guy Ritchie’s early movies to the director of–pardon the pun–kick-ass genre movies that really push the limits of what a certain kind of film can do. He did it spectacularly well with, ahem, Kick-Ass, he made the X-Men movies fun when he made X-Men: First Class and now he’s gone and given the spy movie the shot in the arm it so richly deserved with Kingsman: The Secret Service.
This movie is the epitome of what can be classified as a good time at the movies. A reluctant hero, a creepy cool villain, a creepier cooler henchwoman, stunningly choreographed action sequences, exotic spy gear, dashing men in finely cut suits, and the basic premise of a secret group of well-trained men and women coming together to foil an evil plan.
It has been a while since a movie has come along that has been this much fun. And I was so glad to see that the filmmakers didn’t drop the ball even once during this rollicking yarn. Casting Taron Egerton as Eggsy, the common-guy-among-the-posh-lads was a good move that is going to pay off richly for Mr. Egerton if he is careful about how he picks his next few roles. Equally good is Sophie Cookson as Roxy, another one of the contenders for the spot vacated at the Kingsman Round Table when one of their agents is killed in the field. These younger actors are ably surrounded, supported, and aided by the likes of Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Michael Caine, and Jack Davenport. In fact, Mr. Firth is a complete hoot as the dashing Harry Hart, a gentleman spy who would have put the original Mr. Bond to shame (never mind what he has become at the hands of Daniel Craig in the post Jason Bourne movie landscape).
Harry Hart takes Eggsy under his wing, trains him, educates him, and challenges him. And Eggsy joins the legion of street-smart lads who can count on his own distrust of all things posh and authoritative, as well as his desire to better his station in life, to succeed where so many others would have failed. There are so many inventive actions sequences in this movie that it would be pity to single out one for excessive praise but let it be known that every single action sequence in Kingsman: The Secret Service is deserving of some amount of praise.
Samuel L. Jackson’s decision to play the Big Bad Villain as a dude with a lisp immediately puts this performance on par with his Mr. Glass (in Unbreakable), and it helps that he looks like he’s genuinely enjoying himself. And a special shout out has to go out to Sofia Boutella, the actress who plays the double amputee assassin known only as Gazelle. It’s been a while since anyone has looked that good while killing so many characters with that much glee.
Final Analysis: This is a movie that delivers on the promise of its trailers. It is a big, exuberant, and profane homage to the spy movies of yore. I loved it so much I wanted to watch it again as soon as the credits began to roll.
My Advice: Watch it. The first chance you get.