Kingsman: The Secret Service – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

KingsmanKingsman: The Secret Service – 4/5 – This is an early review for a film that will be coming out early February 2015.  I got a chance to watch this at an early screening for the press.  Being based on a graphic novel; I had an inkling of what to expect.  In retrospect, no matter how much I was expecting from this film, I came out feeling a great fervor of charm.  Kingsman is a film that plays to all the tropes of spy film ever created; but the director (Matthew Vaughn) creates a world that is slick, entertaining and ingenious.  For all the simple threads of story and predictable nature that leads most of this film, there is enough here for Kingsman to be a great escape in its fantastical take of a graphic novel.

Premise:  A veteran of a secret organization takes a young kid within the realms of the unknown.  From here; the young kid must learn what means to be A Kingsman before the world ends.

In the main lead of Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin is young actor Taron Egerton.  He plays a down and out young man with a lot of potential.  All of that comes to head when he gets the chance of a lifetime; to work for a secret organization know as the Kingsman.  At first glance; his characterization of this person is somewhat generic and pompous.  As the film goes along, you realize the irony of his ‘characterization’; as it is a reflection of the film itself.  Being a visualization of a graphic novel, Egerton does a great job in bringing us a bombastic individual that is shaded with righteousness and subtle virtue.  Even as he has that ‘masking’ facade of being pompous, it is a rouse to help protect of others in his life.  That innate ability creates the allure of definite worth; one the Kingsman wants.  He is charming, witty and completely loyal to his beliefs.  It might not be the greatest acting job, but it is enough to carry this film and make him stand on his own merits.  When it comes to the secondary cast, there is a mix of known names and some up and coming British actors/actresses.  To name a few:

Samuel L Jackson as Valentine

Colin Firth as Harry Hart/Galahad

Mark Hamill as James Arnold

Mark Strong as Merlin

Michael Cain as Arthur

Sofie Boutella as Gazelle

Jack Davenport as Lancelot

Sophie Cookson as Grace

These are the more notable names in the film; and ones that have the deeper impact on the story.  As a whole, these actors and actresses do a great job in providing elements of awe and fanaticism that is associated with a ‘pseudo-spy’ tale captured in this film.  In creating unique characters, each of them provides staunch appeal and whimsical interactions within the story.  From the ‘arching nemesis’ that is Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine; to the ‘father-like/mentor’ that is Colin Firth’s Galahad, you feel the purpose of their roles; beyond any cliché they might represent.  What make them so entertaining are their dialogue and the sharpness in their delivery.  You feel the passion as well as the satirical sense of those lines as they came out from their mouth.   Even the younger cast (Sofie Boutella, Sophie Cookson) do a good job in standing toe to toe with the veterans of acting; creating the same allure within the film.   On the other hand, the rest of the supporting cast (not mentioned above) falls into what you’d expect in this kind of film.  Not standing out and giving the ‘standard’ lines to move the story; they are your everyday archetypes of any spy films; wooden pieces to create some aspect of background form the film.

The direction goes takes two different genres brought into one.  We have the basic draw of a ‘coming of age’ that is combed into a pseudo ‘spy thriller’ film.  We are first introduced to this film through the coming of age angle.  Here, we watch as the main character (Eggsy) during his adolescent upbringing; someone built for potential but lives to the ‘status quo’.  That potential boils down to the ‘overarching’ spy elements that will ‘fatefully’ be part of his life (Further explained later).  Within the first act; there is a lot of cliché elements of both genres littered through.  Within that archetypal style, we are introduced to the back history of the Kingsman and how it relates to Eggsy’s upbringing.  From here it’s a ‘montage’ of sorts between what is ‘Kingsman’ and what are the reasons that a character like ‘Eggsy’ should be a part of.  We see the ‘character flaws’ of Eggsy and the typical use of ‘chance in fate’ where Galahad meets Eggsy.  There is then a quick ‘domino effect’ of certain scenes leading to another, as we then flash forward, as Eggsy (now an adult) get’s recruited to become a Kingsman.  The coming of age tale gets entrenched alongside the introduction of the ‘spy thriller’ elements.  Both genres begin to parallel each other as we move into the second act.  We see as we get the mentor/father like figure Galahad for Eggsy.  He uses him as a means to attempt and succeed at his training.  At the same time, we have a definite threat; as Galahad and the rest of the Kingsman began to investigate Valentine and his subtle actions that are going unnoticed by the ‘vast’ intelligence network.   This backdrop helps play to the training of Eggsy; as he parallels him finding ‘himself’ as Merlin trains him to become a Kingsman.  Even as this parallel creates something that is worthy and relative, what makes the film standout is the use of action set-pieces; slick dialogue and heavy innuendos to all the spy archetypes.  Everything from the ‘last minute’ savior moments, ‘unimaginable’ odds of success and the ‘good vs. evil’ stare down conversations; they are all portrayed on screen through a pseudo sense appeal.  As mentioned early, Vaughn takes those elements and spins them in that style, creating something unorthodox but fluid.  He blends it well with the nature of the script, creating an experience that is wholesome but not completely serious.  He finds that fine line (like in Kick-Ass) where you can be over-the-top, bombastic and unbelievable but also grounded, humanistic and heartfelt.   He sets the ‘scenes’ through the characters, allowing them to carry the film over the simplistic outline that is found in every spy film.  As we become entrenched with the characters; we notice some obviousness of the plot still.  This is when we get the predictable situations that lead to the tonal aspects of ‘backstabbing’ and ‘not finishing the job’, as this leads to the ‘impossible odds’ scenario created for the main players in this story.  As we head into the third act; it becomes a simple but fast pace notion of ‘race against time’.  This is where the film highlights its most important aspect (character and dialogue).  With an influx of crazed action scenes, we are infused with great satirical concept of strong social aspects of our world, along with the narrative of an ‘old school’ spy thrillers. That blending of modern aspects with a common tale helps bring all that was heeded from the beginning into one; as we see the point of Eggsy journey leading to this (in a way). The lasting minutes to the climax are merciless; both within the action as well as the dialogue.  As the world weeps a sigh of relief (of sorts), the film ends on a note that is paramount to the whole ‘pseudo’ feeling of this film.  The epilogue (if you can say that) creates both an everlasting notion of irony; one that the story and nature of the characters of the films shine true and authentic.

The visuals are warming and typical.  When it comes to providing a ‘colorful’ aspect; we get a very imaginative world created from the ‘Kingsman’ lore; one that is enough to be unbelievable and real.  From the concepts of their attire, to their home base and weapons; you believe it within its imaginative elements.   Outside of this, the rest of the cinematography is common for a spy film.  From the set pieces created within England and London, to the ‘villainous’ home base; you won’t see anything out of the ordinary.  The score helps breathe life into the whimsical side of the film.  With the music, it helps add to the flavor of the ‘outrageous’ feelings; creating an aspect of enjoyment through the unrelenting nature of the film’s themes and characters.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a film built upon the ideas of the graphic novel; and it doesn’t sway too much from its source material.  Even when it delves into all the tropes that make a spy film, it is carried deeply by both its intriguing characters and satirical dialogue.  If you’re a fan of these kinds of films and/or a fan of Matthew Vaughn, this is a film for you.  I would recommend seeing this opening night; it is one hell of a ride.


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