Review: ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’

Submitted by: EJ Newbold

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My rating: 7/10

I was intrigued to see this film with all the hype I’d seen with trailers, seeing the interviews with the cast on TV over the last few weeks as well as Sky specials I had come across that showed me that despite the main protagonist being in a lower class and trained as a spy (where others were obviously not going to be in the same situation) he may have a good chance on being successful.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Stardust, X-Men: First Class) Kingman: The Secret Service is about a spy organisation who have to recruit for a new member due to Lancelot being killed at the beginning

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of the film. Each member of the organisation brings in a hopeful participant that has to learn their ways together through a harsh training system. Many seem promising except from the street-kid, Gary Unwin (Taron Egerton) IKA: Eggsy, who’s chosen by Harry Hart but has been in trouble with petty crimes in the past. Eggsy adds the key humour with many people laughing at and with him through the choices and actions he makes in the challenges.

His blunt comments on the situation he finds himself in and the sections that include the evil tech genius Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) trying to ‘help’ the world, were my favourite parts.

It’s not every day that you hear Samuel L Jackson act with a lisp either – got some getting used to but added a lot to the character that you end up feeling sorry for but still hating due to what he is trying to do.
Through the competitive training system the trainees are included within you learn a lot about the characters and also how the Kingsman do things but also that everything may not be what it seems. The storyline line follows this too as nothing is really guessable but there’s a good use of references from other films (like My Fair Lady being like Eggsy’s position with Harry) and relevance within today’s world with the cameos that are mentioned from Obama, Princess of Sweden to Iggy Azalea who had written a song for the film that’s used in the trailer with Ellie Goulding.

It’s definitely a British film with its witty banter in the script and the typical stereotype on class; council estate in London or having been born in a posher family (the two extremes meet) are both shown and developed through dialogue and actions that take place both in London and while Eggsy and the group are training.

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I loved the use of the fight choreography and the humour as it was well placed, out doing itself in times such as Egsy reversing the car at the beginning of the film (shown in trailer) as well as jumping over the walls and stairs near his house which impressed the audience as well as myself. Both Egerton and Firth have said in interviews that they had to train for months for particular scenes in the film and it certainly shows with the effortless look to some scenes.

Some scenes were just very odd and plain weird though, making me think “really?!” as the narrative continued. A main reason for this was the use of violence and gore; the given age rating is correct as there’s lots of swearing and violence.
I didn’t mind the swearing as flowed easily in conversations but the violence I wasn’t expecting as much as there was. Even in the beginning your introduced with body’s being blown up, lots of murders and a man getting chopped in half, shocking the audience and I within the first ten minutes.

This violence continues throughout the film with people getting their arms and legs amputated by Valentine’s side kick and many getting shot, but Valentine adds wit to it by mentioning that he gets sick even with the smallest amount blood and even stated for Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) to not to get any on his carpet.

I was on edge most of the film trying to guess what was going to happen and I was happy that it wasn’t cliché. I should have known though with “It’s just not that type of movie” being repeated a couple of times by the characters – it doesn’t always follow the Hollywood narrative, making it more suspenseful over the shock of some things that happen.

Based off a graphic novel from Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, I thought the costumes were awesome and location and settings such as the tailor, where Eggsy’s mentor Harry is based, were well done.

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Many film spies wear tailored suits; Thomas Crowne, James Bond etc. and I liked how the men in Kingsman were different due to the style being lighter than normal as well as being double breasted and having unusual elements in the small objects they have to fight of the evil they come across like Valentine and Gazelle.

I was, however, hugely disappointed with the visual effects. It’s quite obvious when green screens were used due to poor compositing and poorly placed lighting on the cast, such as when Eggsy and Harry go down into a secret lare when Harry shows him around. Somehow the more unrealistic scenes near the end of the film looked more believable than scenes that were filmed in a studio.

The script is really good though. It’s well written and the funny dialogue carried scenes well throughout. I loved how the script related to things later on that you may have not even remember due to so much going on but it wraps everything up nicely with being happy that you remember seeing or hearing something before and can compare everything with the character development.

There’s a main theme of growing as a person and believing in yourself that you can do whatever you put your mind too, no matter what your past, as you always put what you’ve learnt through your experiences rather than let it hold you back… you may not have faith in yourself but others may see your potential and help you out when you need it with good intentions.

It is definitely a guy’s film with the use of violence and star persona within Kingsman: the Secret Service like Collin Firth, Samuel L Jackson, Mark Strong and Michael Caine.  I find this suitable though with the fact ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ has the same release date worldwide and so screenings should be shared with film goers soon.

Despite wanting to be lots of different things within the genre that it covers and feels indecisive in a twist that it included, overall it’s a very clever film with great acting. It’s Sophie Cookson and Taron Egerton’s film debut and I feel with them having just recently graduated from drama school they have a promising future ahead.
I would recommend watching the film, especially if you like your subversive, action-suspense films and ends nicely with Take That’s song in the credits too which many of us were singing along to with a smile through “are you a fool or a Kingsman? Cos only you know” as we walked out of the screening.

Take That ‘Get Ready for It’ music video:

Sky 1 Featurette:

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