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Kingsman: The Secret Service
Genre Action

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a Matthew Vaughn movie. He may sound like a dependable English cricketer, but the film-maker has made a name for himself in Hollywood on the back of producing, writing and directing films like Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class and now Kingsman: The Secret Service.

In many ways, Kingsman is a blend of his previous hits, Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class. The film takes the ultra-violence and blurred lines between reality and unreality of Kick-Ass and infuses it with the suave, sophisticated and sleek world of counter-culture espionage as presented in X-Men: First Class. The mix is quite exhilarating, cashing in the cheesy charm of old school Bond, pouring gasoline on it and lighting it up like a trick-or-treat gag.

Colin Firth is best known as that British chap, who won an Oscar for The King's Speech. So it's hard to imagine him as a first-class spy with the action reflex of Jean-Claude Van Damme. We last saw him wrestling Hugh Grant into a fountain, at the time a worthy adversary, and imagining him in an action star role before Kingsman... is difficult.

He's not quite Bond material, but he does work in a Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy capacity. Thankfully, it's not long before the thick-rimmed glasses, spy gimmicks and action choreography reassure you of his ninja knight abilities as Harry Hart (code name: Galahad) in Kingsman: The Secret Service.

Although this isn't really about Colin Firth. His young apprentice "Eggsy", played by Taron Egerton, is our "Harry Potter" of the spy world. The ruffian's My Fair Lady transformation forms the crux of Kingsman: The Secret Service as the kid opts for special training, with Harry Hart serving as his godfather and mentor. We journey with the young tyke as special agent graduates from a very X-Men: First Class situation to reach his full potential as a royal Kick-Ass.

Supporting our father-son co-leads are Samuel L. Jackson as Valentine, a wealthy philanthropist hellbent on global domination, Michael Caine as Arthur head of the Kingsmen, Mark Strong as Merlin, Sophie Cookson as Roxy and Sofia Boutella as Gazelle. Jackson makes a quirky villain, sporting a speech impediment and some stylish lunacy in one of his better performances of late. Caine delivers clout, Mark Strong delivers yet another solid performance, Cookson is Chloe Grace Moretz 2.0 and Boutella makes you wonder if her character was inspired by Oscar Pistorius, Planet Terror, or both.

Besides the terrific line-up and convincing performances, Michael Vaughn has crafted a comic book adaptation that serves up high-quality entertainment. The film does tend to stray into ambitious territory, teetering very close to the edge of absurdity with its splurge of relentless CGI. Yet, Vaughn manages to keep a leash on it... falling back on its comic origins and comedic flexibility. The balance between reality and unreality creates a strange tension to the action-adventure.

Beyond its quality ingredients, Kingsman: The Secret Service seems preoccupied with "The Michael Bay Rush"... generating enough sleek mayhem and bone-crunching carnage to get the air pants punch from fan boys. Kingsman breaks into plenty of these moments from slicing-and-dicing, running amok in a irreligious blood bath, blowing up heads only to nestle in the resolve of taboo sexual gratification as a golden star for our coming-of-age super spy's fore... head.

Instead of "awesome", Vaughn's going for wicked... and Kingsman serves up a double scoop of everything that's wrong with the world with spoof levity. It's insane, it's undeniably cool and delivered with such panache you can't help but be entertained. It's devilish charms are so subversive, that you're simultaneously shocked and wowed by the film.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a twisted spy action-adventure that plays into the devious secret organisation darkness, writhing with not-so-impossible apocalyptic forecasts and blasting us with its sickly sweet, violent and maniacal comic book imagination. Matthew Vaughn concocts a Martini with his own olives that leaves you shaken and slightly disturbed.

The bottom line: Wicked


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