Film Review – Kingsman: The Secret Service

Written for the Et Cetera.

Film: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Cast: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, and Michael Caine

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Genre: Action/comedy

Release date: February 13, 2015.

Rating: 14A.

Run time: 2hr. 9min.

Synopsis: A spy organization recruits an unrefined, but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius. (IMDB).

Review: Matthew Vaughn’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is a film that revels in its own cliché – and is all the better for it.

Vaughn, who wrote and directed 2010’s underdog adventure “Kick-Ass”, has once again used the works of writer Mark Millar to craft an engaging and entertaining flip on a time-tested genre – this time turning his eye towards the campy and predictable spy flicks of yesteryear.

Though the settings and character names may vary, rest assured that the premise is very much the same as that of Kick-Ass: A talented but defeated social outsider is transformed through circumstance into an unstoppable force for all that is just in the world. And he may or may not get the girl in the end. What’s it to you?

Looking at its plot, you’d find all of the hall marks of yet another throwaway spy-comedy mashup. Where Kingsman shines, however, is in its execution. It knows exactly what you’re expecting, and achieves an even balance between subverting those expectations and playing off of them to comedic effect.

It would all be for naught, of course, if it weren’t for the trademark irreverent British humour that Vaughn does so well. While not above the admittedly juvenile innuendo that wouldn’t be out of place in American Pie, or American Pie 2, or American Pie: The Pie is Nigh, or any other wretched combination of Jason Biggs and literally anything else, Kingsman makes ample use of the serious personas of established actors like Firth, Caine and Jackson to add a level of inherently absurd dry wit that you’re unlikely to find in most American comedies.

Where other spy comedies fail (see Get Smart, or I Spy if you really don’t like yourself), Kingsman succeeds. The 14A rating means that little is held back for the sake of pandering to a younger demographic, adding to the all-in feel of the film’s humour.

Is it predictable? Yes. Is it juvenile? Abundantly. Is it crass? Don’t tempt me.

Ultimately, movies like this have to be judged on a single merit: Is it entertaining? And the answer is a resounding “yes”. “Very yes”, if you’ll forgive the grammar.

By defying expectations, Kingsman surpasses them completely.