Make no mistake. Kingsman: The Secret Service is a comic book movie. There’s not a super-soldier serum or cape in sight, but Kingsman is unapologetic of it’s hyperbole. The opening, music queued to Dire Straights Money for Nothing, tips a wink of what’s to come. Exploding, bouncing rubble to spell out not only it’s production credits, but a statement of intent: We’re here to have some fun.
For the uninitiated Kingsman is based on the 2012 comic book by Mark Millar (who also penned the original comic, Kick Ass – also directed by Vaughn) and Dave Gibbons (of Watchmen fame). The details are changed a little for the adaptation. Most importantly MI6 is replaced with the eponymous Kingsman, a clandestine and private spy agency, although the reckless scaly-wag is still recruited into a world of espionage. Having made the commitment to go all-out, it indulges the silliness of what could be Ken Loach does Bond and instead takes enough of the spy movie trappings of yesteryear and weaves something much more entertaining.
Kingsman’s strength is that it’s fully aware it’s the bastard-child of every Bank Holiday Bond starring Roger Moore and the wish-fulfillment of the Millar book. However, rather than be sneering or lean toward turning what you’re familiar with on it’s head, Kingsman delivers by adding in it’s own originality. There’s a wonderful moment where the villain has an exchange with the wizened spy about their childhood loves of cheeky spy films. It cements the motives while throwing in the required tension. The real heavy lifting of this scene is done by Colin Firth who is clearly having tonnes of fun while selling the stiff-upper-lip English-ness. But pouring out of the exchange is a tantalising look of what these movies, that we all know and love, mean to different people.
The fight scenes for example have the kind of gusto not seen in recent memory. The scrambling camera of Bourne are thankfully ignored, and although there’s some CG stitching together, there’s a wonderfully visceral ballet that ensues. You’ll glide through the set-pieces with giddy delight, punctuated with the odd pop here and there to remind you that people are really being hurt.
It’s difficult to find fault in a movie that doesn’t take itself seriously and still manages to pull off the act rather than dip it’s toe in the water of foolishness to excuse any narrative fumblings. If any, it’s probably that the flick probably won’t benefit from multiple viewings, but when there’s this much genuine fun to be had who’s counting?
3* – The Chav Who Loved Me