Monday, December 21, 2015
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Based on the comic book The Secret Service by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar, Kingsman: The Secret Service is the story of a young man who is recruited to be part of a secret spy organization where they try to save the world from a megalomaniacal man of great wealth. Directed by Matthew Vaughn and screenplay by Vaughn and Jane Goldman, the film is a take on the world of spies and what it takes to become a badass spy with a sense of style. Starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Sophie Cookson, Sofia Boutella, Mark Hamill, Samuel L. Jackson, and Michael Caine. Kingsman: The Secret Service is an exhilarating and fun film from Matthew Vaughn.
The film revolves around a young man, whose father had died when he was young, as he is recruited to be part of a secret organization from a man who feels he owes a debt to that young man’s father for saving his life. There, the two deal with a wealthy Internet mogul who has plans to wipe out most of the population in favor of saving the world as it forces the secret organization of the Kingsman to save the world. It’s a film with a simple plot that plays into a lot of the tropes that is expected in spy films such as world domination, chaos, and doing what is right. Yet, Matthew Vaughn and co-screenwriter Jane Goldman become aware of these clichés and play with those while investing their time in developing a young man who was going through an aimless life into finding something that has meaning.
The protagonist Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is a young kid who lost his father at a young age where he’s been living with his mother, an abusive stepfather, and infant half-sister where he had all of the grades and potential to be something more than a criminal but has a chip on his shoulder. When he meets Harry Hart aka Galahad (Colin Firth) who knew Eggsy’s father, he would bail him out and show him what he could be as Galahad is a spy that looks like a tailor but proves to be a formidable badass. Yet, Galahad is also dealing with the loss of one of his colleagues and needs a replacement where he and the Kingsman are dealing with this billionaire named Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) who is an odd villain of sorts. A billionaire with a lisp and can’t stand the sight of blood despite what he is doing to the world with his new free software that he gives to the world which really serves as what he is planning to do. Once Galahad and the Kingsman senior agent Merlin (Mark Strong) realize what they’re dealing with, they knew something had to be done which also prompts Eggsy to fulfill his own potential.
Matthew Vaughn’s direction is definitely stylish from some of the tracking shots and long takes he creates for some of the scenes to the mixture of violence and humor that is injected in the film. While it starts off with comical moments of violence, Vaughn does play into some of the impact that occurs such as an opening sequence where Eggsy’s father sacrifices himself to save three men from a suicide bomber which plays into Galahad making an oath to be there for Eggsy. While some of the action and suspenseful moments are quite gripping, Vaughn does find a way to inject some humor but also play into what is at stake where Eggsy learns what he has to do to become a Kingsman. Even in a tense moment where he meets with Kingsman leader Arthur (Michael Caine) that would serve as a major test to see if he can really become one. Vaughn’s usage of close-ups and medium shots do play into the drama as well as Eggsy coming to term with who he is but also someone that has a lot of attachments which is often the reason for why he never able to live up to his promises as a young man.
When the film reaches its third act where the Kingsman have to confront Valentine, it is presented in a grand scale in terms of its set pieces and what is at stake where Eggsy not only fulfills that potential. He also becomes aware of what is at stake where Vaughn does play with the conventions of these climaxes as some of it is very violent but also has this air of dark comedy that manages to be a whole lot of fun to watch. Especially in what Valentine unleashes into the world through his app which gave the world free internet and free cellphone usages which plays into the drawbacks of the modern world. Overall, Vaughn creates a very thrilling yet witty film about a young man who realizes his potential to be something more as well as saving the world.
Cinematographer George Richmond does excellent work with the film‘s cinematography with its usage of lights for many of the nighttime interior settings including the film‘s climax as well as some of the exteriors in the day to play off its natural look for scenes set in London. Editors Eddie Hamilton and Jon Harris do nice work with the editing as it does have some fast-paced rhythmic cuts for some of the action and conversations while knowing when not to cut such as some of the tracking shots. Production designer Paul Kirby, with supervising art director Andy Thomson and set decorators Naomi Moore, David Morison, and Jennifer Williams, does fantastic work with the set design from the look of the Kingsman base and its training facilities to the secret hideout where Valentine holds his party. Costume designer Arianne Phillips does terrific work with the costumes from the tailored suits the Kingsman wear as well as the stylish clothes of Valentine.
Hair/makeup designer Christine Blundell does wonderful work with the hairstyles of the characters including the one Galahad would wear during his brief comatose state. Visual effects supervisors Steven Begg, Huseyin Caner, and Matt Kasmir do fine work with some of the visual effects though some of the background stuff don‘t look finished at times. Sound designer Matthew Collinge and sound editor Danny Sheehan do superb work with the sound in creating some sound effects for some of the gadgets the Kingsman use along with some of the sound that occurs in the locations and places the characters go to. The film’s music by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson is amazing for its mixture of orchestral bombast and some pulsating electronic music as the latter plays more into Eggsy‘s personality while music supervisor Ian Neill creates a fun soundtrack that features a plethora of music ranging from rock, pop, and hip-hop from acts like Lynyrd Skynyrd, KC and the Sunshine Band, Dire Straits, Take That, Dizzee Rascal, Iggy Azalea and Ellie Goulding, and Bryan Ferry.
The casting by Reg Poerscout-Edgerton is brilliant as it features notable small roles from Jack Cutmore-Scott, Tom Prior, and Fiona Hampton as a few Kingsman candidates, Hanna Alstrom as the Swedish princess who refuses to make a deal with Valentine, Bjorn Floberg as the Swedish prime minister, Richard Brake as an interrogator for the candidates, Jack Davenport as the original Lancelot who tried to save a professor, Geoff Bell as Eggsy’s abusive stepfather Dean, Samantha Womack as Eggsy’s mother whom he cares about, and Mark Hamill in a terrific role as Professor James Arnold as this man who would be a pawn into what Valentine is creating. Edward Holcroft is superb as the Kingsman candidate Charlie Hesketh who bears all of the attributes to be a Kingsman as he is the total opposite of what Eggsy brings to the organization.
Sofia Boutella is fantastic as Valentine’s amputated henchwoman Gazelle as this woman who is beautiful but dangerous as her sword-like legs are very dangerous. Sophie Cookson is amazing as Kingsman candidate Roxanne as a young woman who befriends Eggsy as she is one of the few who doesn’t dismiss his working-class background while being someone who can be a Kingsman and do what is right. Michael Caine is excellent as Arthur as the Kingsman leader who tries to sort out everything that is happening as well as deal with a world that is changing very rapidly. Mark Strong is awesome as Merlin as a senior Kingsman officer who is also the candidates’ trainer as a man that had seen so much as he is also the film’s conscious of sorts.
Samuel L. Jackson is phenomenal as Richmond Valentine as this megalomaniacal man of wealth who believes he has the answers for all of the problems of the world while doing it in a very evil way where Jackson brings charm but also some humor in his lisps and aversion to blood and violence. Colin Firth is remarkable as Galahad/Harry Hart as a Kingsman agent who personifies all of the things to be a spy that is full of control and style while also being the one person who can show Eggsy what he can be as it’s one of Firth’s finest performances. Finally there’s Taron Egerton in a real breakthrough as Eggsy as young man with a chip on his shoulder as someone that is lost and destined for trouble as he tries to find ways to better himself as well as bring meaning where Egerton manages to have some charm and dramatic weight to his role.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is a sensational film from Matthew Vaughn. Featuring a great cast and an inventive premise that manages to be fun and engaging, the film is truly not just a play on spy movies but also showcases the idea of what a gentleman can be when he’s facing the world in danger. In the end, Kingsman: The Secret Service is a rapturous film from Matthew Vaughn.
Matthew Vaughn Films: (Layer Cake) - (Stardust) - Kick-Ass - X-Men: First Class
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