Genre: spy action
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Rating: *** (3.5 out of 5)
British director Matthew Vaughn is the man behind two of 20th Century Fox’s most successful franchises: Kick-ass and X-Men. His latest offering, Kingsman: The Secret Service, is closer to the former than the latter. Like Kick-ass, Kingsman is based on a Mark Millar comic and is a self-referencing parody of its genre – in this case, British spy films. The movie also takes itself far less seriously than the two X-Men prequels. In fact, just when one scene is about to get too heavy or convoluted, the camera conveniently cuts to the next. The result is a collage of slick camera works and clever one-liners, stitched together by an implausible and predictable plot.
|Kingsman: the Secret Service by Matthew Vaughn|
There is no shortage of silliness in the movie. There is the church massacre set piece – an orgy of hacked limps and pulverized heads – that goes on for far too long. The scene is a cross between Zombieland and M. Night Shyamalan’s bad thriller The Happening. Then there is a drawn-out sequence that involves human heads going off like the Fourth of July fireworks while Edward Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March blasts in the background. Depending on your penchant for gratuitous gore, you may find these follies part of the movie’s charm. Or not.
|Colin Firth about to kick ass|
While our taste for farce varies, there is no debate that the cast is top-notch. After clinching an Oscar for The King’s Speech, Colin Firth returns to the big screen as a secret agent who is more articulate and better dressed than Tom Cruise and Daniel Craig. Samuel J. Jackson plays a tree-hugging tech tycoon-cum-villain hell-bent on culling the human population to save the planet. Virtually unknown outside the U.K., 26-year-old Taron Egerton is a gentleman-in-training from South London – a gum-smacking, baseball cap-wearing Eliza Doolittle. The three actors, each with their own quirks, take turns carrying the film but delighting the audience always. The supporting cast is equally superb, comprising of the dependable though underused Michael Caine, a charmingly deadpan Mark Strong, and Algerian dancer Sofia Boutella who plays one hell of a femme fatale.
Kingsman is unapologetic escapist kitsch, a market that Matthew Vaughn has successfully cornered. The movie will keep you entertained for two hours on a Friday night and, like an amnesia dart from the Kingsman umbrella, have you forget about it as soon as you step out of the cinema.
|Sophia Boutella, a dancer in real life, puts her moves to good use|
This article also appears on SCMP.com under Jason Y. Ng's column “As I See It.”
|As posted on SCMP.com|