a critiQal film review Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

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

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Back in early 2015, everyone was abuzz about Kingsman: The Secret Service. Recently, the buzz has returned as a sequel has been announced. When trying to decide what to review for today, we realized we had never actually reviewed the original. Would it the buzz from 2015 (and the recent buzz) mean we had missed out on a great film? Or was this just another example of Spider-Man (2002), i.e. all hype and no fun?

Colin Firth stars in Kingsman: The Secret Service, and viewers get a taste of what James Bond may have been like if he was still suave and sophisticated. Colin Firth plays his character perfectly, He’s the gentleman’s gentleman, equally at home sparring physically or verbally with the enemy without losing his cool. When he does lose his cool, his hurt is evident. It’s the cool suaveness that makes him who he is, and when it’s stripped away he feels defeated. It’s a perfect update to Sean Connery’s classic Bond, and he’s worth the price of admission by himself.

Taron Egerton, on the other hand, starts off all rough-and-tumble, and plays well as the anti-Firth for most of the film. Despite their culture clash, the younger Egerton yearns for mentor Firth’s approval, and spends most of the film trying to achieve that. While Egerton seems at first mis-cast in the role, he’s actually a great fit, and the seeming incorrect casting choice actually isn’t that at all. It’s just part of the movie’s goal.

Samuel L. Jackson, on the other hand, is a bit of a letdown as the villain of Kingsman: The Secret Society. While he’s usually a highlight of any film he’s in, his villainous character is hard to take seriously when it’s coupled with a completely ridiculous lisp. Sure, that leads to a funny line in the film, where this lisping villain says Firth’s Englishman speaks funny, but it’s not worth all the lisping screen time just for one joke.

Thankfully, Jackson takes a backseat for much of the film, as viewers get a look at what it takes to be a member of the Kingsman. This secret society puts it’s trainees through quite a rigorous training program. Viewers will be constantly surprised by the moments of humor that brighten up this hard sequence, and viewers should enjoy the training sequence a lot more than they will originally be expecting.

Kingsman: The Secret Service hints a lot at it’s origins in early James Bond films, and the film does a fantastic job of delivering on that hidden promise. It manages to deliver a shockingly good spy flick, while at the same time managing to poke a little good-humored fun at the genre at the same time. Despite it’s typically evil villain and his doomsday plot, the film manages to have lots of fun during it’s runtime, and that fun is certainly contagious.

The special effects are impressive as well. Whether it’s well-choreographed fight sequences (including an entire church of combatants), or it’s comical mushroom clouds of different colors to replace people’s heads exploding, the effects are well done all the way around. Just like the rest of Kingsman: The Secret Service, even the effects have their own quirky humor at times, making what would actually be lots of horrendously frightening sequences seem fun and interesting instead.

After seeing Kingsman: The Secret Service, it may give many viewers to wonder (again) why the Bond films of recent years have seen fit to cast Daniel Craig, whose James Bond can’t hold a candle to Firth’s English gentleman. While current Bond films are going to more rough-and-tumble down-in-the-dirt route with Bond, Kingsman: The Secret Service manages to showcase a Bond that hasn’t been seen in years: a suave, sophisticated gentleman with class and decency.

With a solid cast of characters and smart decisions all around by the filmmakers (except for letting Samuel L. Jackson use that silly lisp), Kingsman: The Secret Service plays as a solid, modern-day update to the classic James Bond films, while at the same time managing to not take itself too seriously. It’s a fun, action-packed joyride, with a more suave and sophisticated Bond acting as co-pilot, and definitely a can’t miss film.

Check this one out today, and get excited for the sequel, just like the rest of us.

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