Review: KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Friday, 13 February 2015


For all the flashy style and gleefully over-the-top spirit in KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE, writer-director Matthew Vaughn tries too hard to be fun and cheeky, but doesn't quite succeeds entirely.

In 2010, writer-director Matthew Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman had successfully broke the typical superhero movie formula by turning the genre inside out with KICK-ASS. The result was a rare comic-book gem that bold enough to embrace the R-rated territory with graphic violence and lots of profanity. Five years later, Vaughn and Goldman attempt to replicate the same formula with another comic book adaptation -- only this time, it has a spy twist. On the surface, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE looks promising enough -- a spy movie with a mix of black comedy and gory action, which is a refreshing change of pace from the solemn and gritty era of the BOURNE franchise and the Daniel Craig-starred Bond movies. Not surprisingly, I was expecting a KICK-ASS like sense of radical fun. But despite all the massive hypes, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE doesn't turn out as good as I thought in the first place. 


When the father of 5-year-old Eggsy (Alex Nikolov) died during a top-secret military exercise somewhere in the Middle East, Harry Hart (Colin Firth) -- codenamed "Galahad" -- gives the kid a unique medal of honour that comes with a phone number in case of any favour needed in the future. Cut to 17 years later, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is now a grown-up teenager who spends his time fooling around with his friends. After being arrested for stealing a car, Eggsy uses the medal to avoid 18-month imprisonment with the help of Harry. Harry, who actually works as a super spy, offers Eggsy an opportunity to change his life by becoming an agent for a top-secret spy organisation called Kingsman. Since Eggsy has nothing to lose, he agrees to take on a series of dangerous tests that pushes him to the limit along with other young recruits.

Meanwhile, Harry is trying to investigate the murder of his fellow Kingsman agent, Lancelot (Jack Davenport), who is brutally killed in the line of duty while on the mission to rescue a kidnapped professor (Mark Hamill). Apparently, it has something to do with Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a tech mogul who devises a diabolical plan to save the human race by restructuring the climate change.

As proven in KICK-ASS, Matthew Vaughn oozes plenty of style and grit into a number of thrillingly staged action sequences that doesn't shy away from excessive gore and violence.

From the technical standpoint, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE is blessed with Paul Kirby's ultra-cool production design that recalls the 1960s Bond pictures as well as the TV series of The Avengers and to a certain extent, the 1998 movie version of the same name. Arianne Phillips' chic costumes design and George Richmond's lush cinematography is equally praiseworthy.

Although Colin Firth is hardly known as an action star, he looks both cool and debonair playing a super-spy role like a seasoned pro. Newcomer Taron Egerton delivers a breakthrough performance in his first major feature role as a streetwise teenager with a cocky attitude. Other actors -- including Mark Strong as Kingsman's trainer, Merlin; Sophie Cookson as Eggsy's only friend, Roxy; and Algerian model-turned-actress Sofia Boutella as Valentine's deadly assistant with razor-sharp metal feet, Gazelle -- provide solid supports as well.

The shockingly violent set-piece set in the church -- an obvious shade of Kevin Smith's RED STATE quickly springs to mind -- where Harry force to kill an entire congregation of crazy worshippers in a brutal fashion.

On paper, the idea of casting Samuel L. Jackson as a foul-mouthed megalomaniac seems like a perfect choice to portray the kind of over-the-top villain populated in the old Bond movies during the Sean Connery and specifically, Roger Moore era. However, Jackson's flamboyant attempt to make his villainous role as radical as possible or even the way he cracks out all sorts of profanity-laden quips, feels strangely lacklustre most of the time. In the meantime, Michael Caine is wasted in a weak cameo appearance as the head of the Kingsman spy organisation, Arthur.

Vaughn and Goldman's supposedly entertaining script, which parodies old Bond movies and other pop-culture references surrounding spy-movie clichés, tries too hard to make the jokes witty but ends up looking more desperate instead. Another problem with the script is the inconsistent pace between the elaborate scene that focuses on Eggsy's training with other recruits and the main storyline involving Valentine's evil scheme.


At the beginning of the movie, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE opens promisingly with Dire Straits' classic '80s pop anthem Money for Nothing. I was half expected the movie is going to be fun and thrilling ride. But over the course of 129 minutes, KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE is an uneven effort that doesn't mesh with the movie's over-the-top silliness and dark subject matter comfortably.

* This review is written courtesy from 20th Century Fox Malaysia IMAX press screening *

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