If you are a fan of spy movies, you might have gotten sick of the tried and tested formula where suave spies in tuxedos take on quirky villains and their outlandish plans to destroy and/or take over the world. With Kingsman: The Secret Service, director Matthew Vaughn has the same basic formula to work with but manages to polish it up and breathe new life into this tired genre.
The movie is loosely based on the comic book The Secret Service. Vaughn brings his experience of adapting X Men: First Class and Kickass to the table in order to create a fast-paced action film that borrows from its source material while managing to stand on its own.
Colin Firth stars as a suave yet deadly super agent Harry Hart, codenamed Galahad, who recruits ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (played by newcomer Taron Egerton) to join the Kingsman as a way to pay off a debt to Unwin’s father, who saved Hart’s life in a mission gone wrong.
Egerton as a directionless delinquent is pretty believable and his journey from a Kingsman recruit to a spy is pretty enjoyable. Add Michael Caine as Arthur, the head of the agency, and you have a well-rounded ensemble cast. Samuel L Jackson shines as villainous gazillionaire tech guru with his own sociopathic views on how to make the world a better place. He has a very interesting speech impediment and his very own modern doomsday device to accomplish his plans. Like every villain, he has a murderous crony, Gazelle (Sophia Boutella), who sports Oscar Pistorius-esque blade prosthetics which she uses as weapons of devastation in sophisticated and beautifully choreographed action sequences.
The story is pretty straightforward: the Kingsman must save the world from impending doom. It sounds run-of-the-mill but the film’s treatment of this plotline is anything but clichéd. The movie is peppered with action sequences reminiscent of ultra-violent video games and comic books. One such scene takes place in a hate-mongering church congregation and leaves the viewer overwhelmed.
The sped up action sequences and stylised violence is polarising — some viewers might find it hard to stomach while others will relish the gore. The original soundtrack, composed by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson, adds another dimension to the whole experience. Retro songs juxtaposed with action sequences add a fun quotient to the whole experience.
Although Vaughn does rely on some tried and tested scenarios, his versatile ensemble cast manages to keep the movie fresh and entertaining without the viewer experiencing déjà vu. A quote the villain utters — “It’s not that kind of a movie” — before a climatic scene underscores the director’s quest to make this spy movie slightly different.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, March 22nd, 2015.