Some will say I’m stubborn, but I can’t bring myself to watch any Bond movies starring Daniel Craig. I’m open to change and I like to be pleasantly surprised, but these new Bond movies simply don’t pique my interest. Craig is a fine actor, and the films bring extraordinary talent behind the camera. But, to me, Bond films should be flashy and grand. They should be implausible and crazy. I appreciate the series trying something new, but to trade the wham-bam escapism for a sombre atmosphere kills my initiative. Maybe some day.
In Kingsman: The Secret Service, a character makes note of the sudden change in espionage movies without crashing through the film’s fourth wall. It’s a special hint director/co-screenwriter Matthew Vaughn drops mid-way through his action film. It sends a signal to movie goers cluing us in to the hidden gears working the movie towards its explosive scenes.
Adapting another work by Mark Millar, Vaughn returns to in-your-face fandom with Kingsman: The Secret Service, an enormously fun flick starring nimble gentlemen saving the world from audacious villains using secret weapons and cartoony tactics.
Kingsman begins formulaically, giving the audience an underdog who will undoubtedly shake his thuggish street sense and exchange it for proper protagonist poise. Taron Egerton (as our young hero Eggsy) plays the part very well and makes it easy to root for him. Watching him endure Kingsman training missions is expected, but by having the script often hint at failure is odd. There are tasks that surprise us, but ultimately we know what’s going to happen.
When Vaughn and Jane Goldman’s screenplay bump the introductions to a secondary role, they shine with the main story. Philanthropist – and crook – Valentine (played by Samuel L. Jackson with an alarming lisp and dressed like Spike Lee at a Knicks game) unfurls a plan to take over the world with enticing perks for the common citizen (a sim card that freely offers free internet and free phone calls). The effects of Valentine’s take over are extremely violent and darkly hysterical. Only sometimes do these scenes of senseless violence get to be too shallow for the film’s own good.
As it was with Vaughn and Millar’s Kick-Ass, the brawls are silly while incorporating mass amounts of graphic kills. Instead of simply displaying the nastiness though, Vaughn serves up a hyper-stylized presentation that keeps the movie in a realm of lively entertainment. Extended choreographed sequences such as a memorable brawl in a church set to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Freebird’ add expertise and pizazz to Vaughn’s filmmaking.
I’ll echo what co-star Mark Strong has said about the movie. Superhero movies are to Kick-Ass as spy movies are to Kingsman. But as far as its speedy style goes, I personally found the film resembling the franticness of Wanted, another Millar comic. That said, Kick-Ass and Wanted are two movies that split audiences in half. Kingsman giddily joins those ranks.
Kingsman: The Secret Service may not be everyone’s “thing”, but this is the vivacious action movie I’ve been waiting for.