Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 2 hours 9 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Sequences of Strong Violence, Language and some Sexual Content
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Written by: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
(based on THE SECRET SERVICE comics by Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons)
Starring: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, Sofia Boutella, Jack Davenport, Sophie Cookson, Mark Strong & Mark Hamill
KINGSMAN feels like an R-rated version of SPY KIDS mixed with the most ridiculous James Bond movies. If that description doesn’t sell you on this movie by itself, I honestly don’t know what more you want from this insane action-comedy. This comic book adaptation never takes itself seriously, but manages to birth a cast of strong characters and a clever storyline. In my humble opinion, KINGSMAN is the first perfect movie to come out of 2015!
Eggsy is a young lad stuck in a rough life. His father died when he was a toddler and his mother is in an abusive relationship with a local thug. The future doesn’t look bright for Eggsy until he meets Harry Hart. Harry belongs to a group of top-secret agents known as the Kingsmen and he has picked Eggsy as a possible replacement for a newly deceased agent. Eggsy is subjected to a rigorous amount of deadly tests that will determine whether he makes the cut or not. This is all while Harry and his fellow Kingsmen investigate an apocalyptic plot headed by a quirky psychopath/genius named Richmond Valentine. As possible destruction draws near, the fate of the world lies in the hands of Eggsy, Harry, and the rest of the Kingsmen!
The plot sounds relatively simple on paper, but is actually very clever. This film is basically like a loving homage to old 60’s spy movies and all of the ridiculous charm that comes with them. There are multiple references to spy thrillers throughout, some as blatant as a hero and a villain having discussions about old-school Bond films. However, the film never follows that formula in the way you might expect it to. It also helps that there’s (god forbid) character development thrown into both heroes and villains in ways that make you care about their plight.
All of the characters are memorable in one way or another. Taron Edgerton is a fresh face, but should have a long and impressive career ahead of him. Eggsy could have come off as an overly familiar stereotype or a generic hero, but Edgerton feeds realistic emotion and charisma into the role. Colin Firth isn’t exactly the first person you’d think of when you hear the phrase “action hero,” but manages to pull off his ass-kicking secret agent with style as well as humor. Mark Strong is also excellent, as is Sophie Cookson. On the villain side of things, Samuel L. Jackson is simultaneously hilarious and menacing as Richmond Valentine, adopting a lisp and little quirks that separate his character from the typical Bond baddie. His sidekick called Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) uses razor-sharp prosthetic legs that add even more tension to the her scenes.
When I originally saw the trailer for KINGSMAN last year, I figured that this film would be a fun PG-13 popcorn action flick. How wrong I was. This film is blood-spattered and packed gratuitous violence, earning its R rating with glee. There are lots of set pieces that stick out, including a jaw-dropping sequence set in a church that is sure to go down as one of the best action scenes in recent memory. There is plenty of mayhem to go around and the film doesn’t play it safe in regards to those with weak stomachs. Go in expecting violence and you’ll receive more bloodshed than any of the FRIDAY THE 13TH installments.
What’s also refreshing is that KINGSMAN doesn’t take itself seriously at all. This being said, the film manages to combine a mix of humor and high stakes that will fully engulf you in the perfectly paced story (that runs for just over two hours). All the laughs work and the adrenaline-pumping action scenes are among the best in the past couple of years. Blending comedy and action can usually result in the film coming out as more comedic than serious (see 22 JUMP STREET), but KINGSMAN manages to walk that tightrope in the same way that KICK-ASS did five years ago!
That comparison to KICK-ASS is valid as both films are adapted from comics, sport a hard R rating as well as a sense of humor, and are masterfully directed by Matthew Vaughn. This is basically the KICK-ASS of the spy genre. That sentence should tell you whether this film is for you or not. The more I think about this movie, the more I love it. KINGSMAN is truly awesome!