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Film Review: Kingsman (2015)

 

 

This fun-filled, spoof-like, creatively mesmerising comic book adaptation shines a whole new light on spy films. There have been plenty of Bond, Bourne and Bauer missions, but none of them have been quite like Kingsman. With mostly tasteful gags, spectacular effects and a serious yet hilarious quality, it’s a great piece of film making and fun, if you have a high tolerance for comic-style violence.

 

Director Matthew Vaughn teamed up with X-Men: First Class and Kickass writer, Jane Goldman to deliver a script of excellence and humour. Having read the original comic myself, The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, I have to say I didn’t have high hopes for a film adaptation. Thinking the film would take the comic’s level of crudeness and violence above and beyond the comic’s already singular tastes and themes, it wasn’t exactly a film I was anticipating. However, I was proved wrong. Vaughn and Goldman’s script has elegantly changed what was once an unattractive and tasteless comic, and created a great source of entertainment with only one gag right at the end that needn’t be displayed on screen. It may have been much funnier and tasteful if it were left to the imagination of the audience; we didn't need to see that.


Presuming a lot of women and their boyfriends have seen Bridget Jones’ Diary, this thrilling spy film isn’t one in which you’d expect to find the bumbling Mr Darcy, played by Colin Firth. But let me tell you, he is almost unrecognisable. The suave, gentleman spy comes so naturally to him he’d give Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig a run for their money. He delivers fantastic one liners and eloquent sections of speech. But most impressively he is the centre of an epic, action-filled blood bath. So, again, this is not for people who can’t really tolerate violence. At times it does appear to go slightly overboard, but it is not detailed or gruesome and cleverly sticks to the comic-book style. Firth’s character Harry Hart, codenamed Galahad, is a professionally trained and deadly agent, who unwillingly releases a violent streak and kills dozens of angry people around him. This was the scene that made me realise Colin Firth’s refined, respected and distinguished character could open up many more action-filled roles.


Newcomer Taron Egerton is a great choice for the role of Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin, and casting directors were certainly right in making the choice to have a new, fresh face rather than a well-known actor. Egerton brings a unique take on the role. Eggsy’s life hasn’t exactly been sunshine and roses, with many run-ins with the law, and we learn early on of the death of his father, who served in the Kingsman Secret Service, and “operates and the highest levels of digression”. He makes the character of Eggsy likeable, and he really grows into a selfless person and becomes a man, without losing that cheeky flare and occasional profanity.


Featuring Samuel L Jackson as the twisted villain, Valentine - who thinks he’s saving the world by wanting to destroy all humans who are polluting the planet - we meet a villain who for once isn’t English and has a characterising lisp. His sidekick is Gazelle, originally a man in the comics, and now played by Sofia Boutella, who leaps and bounds on prosthetics that double up as blades. She is one female villain you would never want to cross.


We also see Sir Michael Caine as a sophisticated gentleman in the agency. As always Caine’s acting is spot on, and embraces the parental and protective role - but there is something that’s just not quite right about his character, Arthur. Also worth a mention is the Kingsman comparable of Bond’s Q, Mark Strong as Merlin. His Scottish accent combined with his stern but secretly watchful and vigilant attitude makes him an incredibly likeable and engrossing character.


The writing in Kingsman really plays with the boundaries of cinema, toying with the usual conventions of spy films and splintering the fourth wall. And, in a twist of fate, the villain doesn’t get all of the best lines. But what is really creative is George Richmond’s cinematography. The spectacular CGI really is a sight you’ll always remember. It is unlike anything you have seen in a film that you take seriously, but you know is also a bit of fun and entertainment. You should really go and see for yourself just how incredible and funny it is. And the amazing first person camera views really draw you into the film. It not only makes it feel like you’re involved and an active part of the action, but almost as if you’re playing a game, without disorientating you.


It’s difficult to explain the unique qualities of the film and just how fun it is to watch, so I’d highly recommend going to see it yourself.

 

Review by April Williams


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