Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Kingsman: The Secret Service (Movie Review)

By Freda Cooper 27.01.2015

Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Kingsman: The Secret Service (Movie Review)

Kingsman: The Secret Service (UK Rating: 15)

Director Matthew Vaughn brought a fresh approach to the superhero movie with Kick-Ass and it was one that struck a chord with older teenagers. Now he's moved on to another genre - spy movies - but, despite a trailer that seems to have a younger age group in mind, he's staying with the same audience as well. It's one of those instances where the film's certificate does really say it all. With Kingsman: The Secret Service released around the UK on Thursday, 29th January, Lights, Camera, Action! goes undercover to solve the mystery of whether this is a must-see or not.
Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Kingsman: The Secret Service (Movie Review)

Savvy teenager Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is living on a rough estate when a super-secret spy organisation called Kingsman takes him on as a potential recruit. He's not their usual style: they usually take on Oxbridge graduates with posh accents, and he's neither. He's taken under the wing of senior agent Harry/Galahad (Colin Firth) and does surprisingly well in a series of tests. While he's working on that, however, Harry, his boss Merlin (Mark Strong), and Kingsman leader Arthur (Michael Caine) are trying to work out what's behind the latest headline-grabbing plan from multi-millionaire Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). He's offering free SIM cards to everybody in the world and, once the Kingsman team realise exactly what he's up to, their task is clear: they have to stop him.

It has to be said that the film does take a while to get going, spending probably more time than it should on scene setting, especially where Eggsy is concerned. However, with that out of the way, it settles into its groove of being a cheeky, high-spirited poke in the eye for the spy genre. It never takes itself too seriously - quite correctly - and is packed full of joke gadgets, including an impressively multi-purpose umbrella and a vicious little blade concealed in a shoe's toe cap. The shoes, of course, are Oxfords, not brogues. "Words to live by," Firth coaches his prodigy. Jackson's villain takes the idea one step further and has an assistant who is a one-woman gadget. Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) sports a pair of blades of the type usually worn at the Paralympics. The difference is that they are razor sharp and have lethal spikes, making her a formidable opponent.

The action sequences, when they arrive, are prolonged and full of high-kicking, although there are times when Colin Firth and his body double(s) don't look wholly convincing. Saying that, the scenes are nigh-on bloodless, even during the decidedly OTT climax when Jackson's plan starts to fall down. It involves a lot of heads exploding in time to the strains of Land of Hope and Glory but, even then, the red stuff is conspicuously absent, replaced by a rainbow of colours so that the whole scene is more like the New Year fireworks. Slick and stylised violence is the order of the day, but it's not the reason why the film has a 15 certificate. Instead that's down to the language, with the F word scattered liberally throughout the dialogue. The other reason for its rating is one especially explicit sexual joke, which is most certainly not for children - nor is the film as a whole.
Image for Feature | Lights, Camera, Action! – Kingsman: The Secret Service (Movie Review)

There are plenty of laughs, though, from the understated British humour of the Kingsman team itself, to the more in-your-face style of Eggsy and the younger members of the cast. References to other films, from The Shining to Thunderbirds, raise more than a smile, as do the on-going spy movie parodies. Perhaps the best comes in the form of Samuel L. Jackson, though. Bond villains always have some form of physical weakness - a hideous scar, metal teeth - right? In his case, he has a speech impediment, but a stutter would have been far too obvious when his main adversary is Colin Firth! Therefore, he gets a lisp instead and, while it's not very politically correct to laugh at him, that's exactly what audience does.

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
Overall, Kingsman: The Secret Service wears a knowing smile on its face, even if it's concealed by the stiff upper lip of the older members of the cast. It has swagger and style, even if it does take a while to get moving, and there's plenty of action and humour. That 15 certificate, though, is there for a reason, and it is one instance where the censor is bang on target. The film itself is more hit than miss.

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