Kingsman: The Secret Service

Colin Firth and Taron Egerton star in "Kingsman: The Secret Service"

Colin Firth and Taron Egerton star in “Kingsman: The Secret Service”

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a 2015 action spy film starring Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, Love Actually), Taron Egerton, and Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained, Pulp Fiction).  The film was directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class).

Kingsman, based off a limited comic book series, follows the secret service group known as the Kingsman where Harry Hart (Firth) is a member.  One day, one of Hart’s fellow kingsmen dies saving his life when he didn’t realize a bomb was attached to their target.  Hart eventually visits the man’s wife and his young son Eggsy to whom he gives a medal with a number on it to call if he ever needs help.  Fast forward 17 years later and Eggsy (Egerton) finds himself in trouble with the law after stealing a man’s car after an encounter at a local pub.  Eggsy calls the number at hand and is released by Hart but is also brought into the world of the Kingsman as he competes for a position in the group after a recent death.  All of this occurs as billionaire Valentine (Jackson) has made a free SIM card for everyone in the world but he has other motives in mind for those who get the SIM card implanted.

A lot of action films recently have seemed to really go over the top in their action and story to try to please fans.  Sometimes they have worked and other times they have not.  Director Vaughn luckily has realized how to make solid, yet crazy action-packed films that deserve success at the box office.  Kingsman is yet another one of those successes.  Vaughn not only pays homage to the classic action films as they found success in modern cinema but he also allows the film to be self-aware about what kind of adventure it is, thus adding more fun into the mix.  For a film that is self-aware, it surprisingly stays away from too many cliches.  When they do come around, Vaughn and his actors at least turn them around to make the act feel fresh.

Though it isn’t quite as bloody or even close to as controversial as Vaughn’s film Kick-Ass, the film still definitely deserves its R rating.  The fight sequences don’t hold back as anything is up for grabs and the cast and crew really go for everything.  It’s bloody and yet still self-aware helping these scenes not only be entertaining but quite comical, particularly during the climax of the story.

The story itself works well against its counterparts in the genre.  The story goes through the basic up and downs that a film like this would go through but it doesn’t go too heavy on certain angles which other films would have hammered to death (such as Eggsy and his mother dealing with his abusive stepfather).  With the action already keeping the blood going during the film, Eggsy’s story is still filled with plenty of comedy to not let the story run dry.

The acting within the film was also very strong from just about everyone on board.  Colin Firth surprised the most showing not only has his success in film within the last few years improved his acting and presence more, but he can handle action in a film with ease.  Given the film’s success on opening weekend and the reviews the film has received, it would not be surprising to see Firth attached to a few more action pieces within the next few years.  Newcomer Taron Egerton shows he has what it takes to be a likable, solid blockbuster star in the years to come.  Samuel L. Jackson is at some of his funniest here in his portrayal of an antagonist not wanting to act like a true villain.  With Jackson having been in a bit more serious roles lately, particularly with his Marvel films, it is nice to see him a bit more laid back.  Mark Strong works well as Merlin and its also welcoming to see him in a helpful role rather than just another villainous one.  Even newcomer Sophie Cookson, who plays fellow Kingsman candidate Roxy, does a strong job as a female counterpart who doesn’t fall under typical scenarios a character such as her’s would.

Kingsman is the kind of fun, over-the-top action film that audiences crave and it works so well.  It may need some more time to settle in but this could be director Vaughn’s strongest film to date.  There is definitely room for this film to be the beginning of a franchise and, if it is the start of one, it should be a great one.  If not, this is still a great addition to the action spy genre to watch again and again.

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Starring:  Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson

Rating: R for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content

Runtime: 129 minutes