Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
From the director of Kickass & X-Men: First Class comes a new picture that effortlessly blends the over-the-top action of the former with the secret world of the latter, which is then smoothly intermixed with elements of spy-thrillers & is ultimately raised to a high level of bizarro. And the result is a parody of sorts that looks incredibly stylish, is downright hilarious & delivers an endlessly fun experience and although the film as a whole may not rank amongst the best examples of its genre but when it comes to having a good time at movies, this light-hearted action comedy simply works.
Based on the acclaimed comic book & set in London, Kingsman: The Secret Service refers to a secret spy organisation which, in the wake of one of their top agent’s death, opens up a vacancy for a new agent which will require the candidates to undergo a strenuous training exercise, following which only one will qualify for the job. The plot concerns a veteran Kingsman agent who, under strange circumstances, comes across an unemployed young adult in whom he sees great promise & takes him under his wing. While the candidates compete to become the new ‘Lancelot’, a global threat emerges from a twisted billionaire.
Co-written & directed by Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman: The Secret Service is yet another fantastic comic book adaptation from the promising filmmaker who has already made an impression with his excellent understanding of what the mainstream audience desires & how to deliver on that expectation without compromising with the quality of the stories at hand. His kinetic direction here brims with creative energy as his latest is a love letter to the earlier James Bond classics. However, it also toys with the conventions of its genre while making fun of the same simultaneously, and with its clever use of violence & a few cartoonish renderings, makes Kingsman a roller-coaster cinematic ride.
Coming to the technical aspects, Production Design team does an excellent job as all the set pieces present in the film are meticulously refined, thus giving a contemporary look to the whole premise. Cinematography makes excellent use of the camera for it seamlessly transitions from a firmly controlled sequence to an out-of-control carnage without ever losing focus while the splendid utilisation of colour palette & lighting greatly enhance its visual presentation. Editing provides a brisk pace to its 129 minutes of runtime and even though a few tonal shifts don’t really work out, its footing is right most times. Plus, the energetic score by Henry Jackman & Matthew Margeson works in favour of the story.
As far as performances go, Kingsman: The Secret Service features a well-rounded cast in Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Sophie Cookson, Michael Caine & Sofia Boutella. Now Firth may not be anyone’s first choice for an action role yet it’s the sole reason why his secret agent character works so well. Jackson plays the tech-genius billionaire with a lisp which makes his character funny & freaky at the same time. Strong is reliable as always. Egerton & Cookson are the newcomers here and both chip in with vital inputs, especially Egerton whose master-disciple relationship with Firth is one of the film’s highlights. Boutella is fun to watch during the action sequences while Caine is simply wasted in his role for his character doesn’t get to do much.
On an overall scale, Kingsman: The Secret Service is an early oddball of the year that does to James Bond what Kickass did to superheroes. Its unexpected shift in tones, crazy action sequences & eccentric use of humour may not go well with every viewer but even its detractors won’t be able to deny the awesomeness of a particularly violent sequence that takes place in a church. There are many instances when the film suddenly breaks its serious tone with a rich laughter moment which does become repetitive over the course of its runtime yet is never tiring. In addition to that, Vaughn’s direction brings an assured quality to his work and while it’s no match to his previous effort, this British spy action comedy is an enjoyable, entertaining & amusing ride that comes gleefully recommended.