Review: Kingsman – the Secret Service

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Kingsman: The Secret Service’s brand of deliriously violent entertainment is a joy to watch unfold. Anyone that was fond Matthew Vaughan’s previous work Kick-Ass will feel right at home once the blood starts being spilt and the limbs start flying. The problem is that everything outside of the wonderfully enjoyable fight scenes is mundane at best, and face cringingly uncomfortable at worst.

Straight from the off Kingsman makes no secret as to where it draws its inspiration, being a tribute of sorts to classic spy movies (particularly the classic Bond era). There’s a ridiculously over the top villain, ludicrous gadgets and a secret lair built into the side of a snowy mountain. Kingsman has all the genre tropes that you’d expect in a classic spy movie, but with added buckets of blood and gore which helps to give the film a completely uneven tone.

Bouncing between scenes of a women with blades for legs kicking men in the throat, with predictable results, and scenes of awkward humour Kingsman never feels at ease with itself, constantly switch between what feels like two different movies. Sure screenwriters Jane Goodman and Vaughan try to unite the films two differing tones by adding copious amount of swearing throughout but overall this is not a tonal even film.

It is however a very well made movie on a technical level, most of the time at least. There’s some awkward editing in the non-action parts but when everything goes to hell the screen bursts with vibrancy. The films best scene, focused around a radical church group being massacred, is a true testament to how skilled Vaughan is with the action flowing effortlessly. The action scenes are certainly worth watching, they’re not worth the price of admission by a long shot but when they get put on Youtube they’ll be well worth thirty minutes of your life. The remaining hour and a half of Kingsman should be avoided at all costs.

“I play a psychotic megalomaniac and what better role is there to play in a Matthew Vaughn movie?” Samuel L. Jackson remarked in a pre release cinema spot for Kingsman, well Mr Jackson in this movie any other role would be better. Jackson’s millionaire villain misses the mark at every turn being poorly written and surprisingly poorly acted. Plenty of odd quirks are thrown into the mix such as him being terrified of blood and a strange lisp that Jackson seems to adopt and drop frequently but none of them make his character anything other than intolerable.

Colin Firth is an unexpected hit in a film that is largely comprised of misses, or perhaps I’ve just been blinded by the fact he features prominently in the films aforementioned best scene. Firth plays his pretty standard middle class gentleman but with the added twist of him being able to deliver a serious beat down.

Taron Egerton plays Eggsy a young adult from a rough background drafted into the Kingsman organization. Thankfully only a handful of jokes are made about him being a fish out of water amongst the Kingsman elite, however overall Eggsy isn’t a particularly worthy hero rarely being compelling and more often than not being annoying.

Kingsman clocks in at over two hours, and it feels every little second of that one hundred and twenty nine minutes. The pacing is all over the place with exposition being delivered in a quick burst, without the audience being given time to absorb the information, then the film will slow to a crawl for an extended period.

Matthew Vaughan is clearly attempting to channel the sense of fun that he absolutely nailed back in 2010 with Kick-Ass but unfortunately this effort is sorely missing both the tight narrative and the brilliant characters. Kingsman: The Secret Service has brief spurts of blood soaked fun but once the guns, and knife legs, are put down the film grinds to an unbearable halt and by the end has well and truly bled out.