Spy films have gotten awfully serious of late, until now that is.
Director: Mathew Vaughn
Starring: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine, Sofia Boutella
Release Date: January 29th 2015
Since Borne and Bauer hit the screens, secret agents have lost their comic wit, fun and for the most part, their sense of humour, even Bond, a series built on these three staples, has ditched them in favour of a more dry and serious character, it seemed as though it was no longer the gentleman’s spy game, but luckily for us, Kingsman: The Secret Service has gone about bringing some of the comedy back to the genre and also lead to a surprisingly good January release.
Working class youth Eggsy (Egerton) ends up competing to become a member of The Kingsman the elite spy agency his late father was once a member. Set up by aristocrats to prevent the loss of their heirs, each member takes the name of one of the Knights of the Round Table, headed up Arthur (Caine).
After a bodged rescue attempt, one of the Kingsmen is killed and the hunt is on for a replacement spy, with each member given the task of putting forth a candidate, Galahad (Firth) uses this opportunity to make up for the death of a colleague, by choosing his fallen friends delinquent son Eggsy to be his pick to become the latest member of the elite spy agency, The Kingsman set up by aristocrats to prevent the loss of their heirs and prevent bad guys the world over.
The film takes you back to the golden age of gentleman spy films in the 60’s and 70’s, with Colin Firth the perfect veteran secret agent, clever, witty and stylish, with a collection of one-liners that would make even Bond jealous, while Taron Egerton’s Eggsy is the perfect contrast, the promising young protégé who without a positive male influence, has gone off the rails and is in need of something to aim for.
Class plays a huge part in this movie, with us vs. them theme running throughout, especially when it comes to the training, with Eggsy sticking out like a sore thumb when surrounded by all the public school toffs that he is in competition, with the leading to someone truly funny moments, especially any scene involving his pug, all whilst providing some social commentary about how the rich keep the poor down.
Somewhat of an added bonus in a genre that never really concentrated on social issues. rather political ones and don’t get me wrong, the film touches on them too, but Kingsman is more My Fair Lady than Skyfall, but still includes all the staples of a great spy film, with entertaining action scenes, including an extended bloodbath in an American church filled with homophobes and bigots to the tune of Free Bird by Lynrd Skynyrd or a finally that means you will no longer be able to hear Give It Up by KC and The Sunshine Band without seeing exploding heads and fighting on the beaches of Rio.
Along with the help of his trusted sidekick Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), Samuel L Jackson makes up the second staple of every good action spy film, playing Richmond Valentine, the megalomaniac internet millionaire, whose plans to provoke population of earth into killing each other in the hope of saving the planet and an interesting and sometimes funny lead villain, something that is sometimes lacking in the first film of a series, think Star Trec, Iron Man and Casino Royal.
All of which contributes to a pretty impressive release for a film in January, a month usually devoted to bad films and sequels, but every so often you get a surprise package like this, with strong acting all around, including from Egerton as he makes his big screen debut, this film is entertaining throughout and well worth going to see if you want a break from bad weather and January blues.
If you like: Attack The Block, James Bond (Before Daniel Craig) and Kick-Ass.