Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service


Director:Matthew Vaughn

Cast:Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Samuel L. Jackson, Taron Egerton

Running Time:129 Minutes


Early on in Matthew Vaughn's wild comic book adaptation of The Secret Service, Agent Gallahad (Colin Firth) compares Eggsy's (Taron Egerton) transition from a street tough to a classy gentleman to several movies, including Pretty Woman and Trading Places. It's one of several winks to the audience that's littered throughout this movie, which hits the gas early and rarely lets up.

Vaughn takes the gleeful violence that made Kick-Ass such a fun flick, to a world of grim comic-book movies and cranks it up to 11. Heads explode. People are sliced right down the middle. Large groups of people beat each other senseless. That could sound like a drag, and the script occasionally lets the nihilistic streak of Mark Millar's comic slip through. But Vaughn has such a great eye for action and a reverence for the gadgetry of 007 that it's always in touch with how silly it all is.

The gist of The Secret Service isn't all that different from the movies Gallahad mentions. What it most closely resembles is Men in Black, with a weary no-nonsense agent molding a wisecracking young gun into a suit-wearing, heat-packing weapon. The cast meshes well with that story, and gives Vaughn an opportunity to extend some of the training sequences we saw in X-Men: First Class, but add in extra danger and F-bombs.

One of the most fun aspects of The Secret Service is Samuel L. Jackson's role. Playing a Steve Jobs-like mogul with Russell Simmons' wardrobe and lisp, he's relishing his time as the flashy antagonist, just as he did in last year's otherwise forgettable RoboCop. While he plots to take over the world with SIM cards, his sidekick Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) does all the dirty work: she slashes up victims with her razor-sharp prosthetic legs. Yes, it's as ridiculous as it sounds.

The Secret Service provides everything you'd want in an action movie and then some. You saw the immaculate suits and powerful weapons in the trailer. But did you also want some adorable puppies? Yes, you did. Did you want a Westboro Baptist Church-like cult ripping each other apart while the guitar solo from "Free Bird" plays? Well, you will now. All that craziness makes this Vaughn's best movie to date and easily the best movie of 2015 so far.


About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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