(This was originally published on 07/08/2015 on a previous blog)
*before we begin*
The intention of a post hype review is to assess a film which was viewed in an environment after its initial release, therefore avoiding any hype or momentum (be this positive or negative) the film has generated. In order to do this the films mentioned in this and future Post Hype Reviews will have been viewed on home release (DVD or Blu Ray). Any mention of the films visual or sonic fidelity regards the quality of the film rather than the medium on which it was viewed (although if there is an issue regarding the medium this will be noted, in an aside, underneath the review)
This idea is a semi-work in progress and any thoughts on it would be greatly appreciated. Now to the review
Matthew Vaughn takes the helm to direct a fast, fun and over the top spy movie that strikes a fine balance between ridiculous violence and dark humour.
Kingsman The Secret Service revolves around an intelligence agency style reimagining of the knights of the round table. The narrative follows Galahad (Colin Firth) and Eggsy (Taron Egerton) who work together to instate the next member of The Kingsman order and stop Valentine’s (Samuel L Jackson) genocidal Plan. The story is a mix of the small, intimate moments of Eggsy’s life and upbringing and the much larger scale moments involving Kinsman and Valentine. For the most part the narrative is an over the top spy thriller but it manages to tackle some tougher themes like coming of age, prejudice and class without ever really feeling heavy or sluggish.
Galahad (firth) is the strongest part of the entire film he is frequently given the best lines in a scene and firths performance pulls them off effortlessly. Valentine (Jackson) is also a pleasure to watch, in any other film his caricatured performance of a billionaire technology mogul would feel very out of place but here he fits right in. He is evil enough to be the ‘bad guy’ but not evil enough to be in anyway dislikeable. The varied characters are one of the film’s strongest features throughout. They are cleverly written and frequently have smart and progressive nuances that help make them feel more well rounded and less like 2d ‘spy film’ archetypes.
The film is trying to capture and evoke the style of early to 90’s bond films, and though for the most part it succeeds, visually it falls a bit flat. For the most part the movie is well lit but a little generic. Although there are a few visual flares (usually thanks to a secret hide out or piece of gadgetry) that don’t astound but do keep the audience smiling.
The action however is another matter. It feels fast, excessive and comic book like, it makes use of violence which at times feels extreme but, due to fast paced choreography, the focus shifts quickly and so the action sequences never feel like they’ve gone too far. However the special effects during these scenes can cause a problem as they’re very very noticeable and often make the action feel artificial. ALthough It could be said that the this is intentional due to the comic book-like nature of the violence. The longer the film goes on the more the audience acclimatizes to it but, certainly at first, this can be somewhat jarring, luckily the action is exhilarating and fun enough to make this overlook-able.
Absolutely the best part of Kingsman is the movies consistent balance. The movie is made up of many aspects that could easily over power each other, but instead they are finely balanced together. For example the over the top comic book violence mixes well with the frequent comedic tone and irreverent comedy. This means that the comedy is funny, and the action is intense, but they never overpower the other, instead give the audience room to breathe and refresh their palette for the next scene. This balance is consistent throughout many aspects of the film, whether it’s the nuanced character integration in the large scale story, or the mixing of visual and musical flairs. Balance is the cornerstone that underpins the film making at the heart of Kingsman and makes it a joy to watch from start to finish.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is a fun, violent, funny and clever film that does an excellent job of integrating interesting characters in to an intentionally ridiculous spy movie plot. It takes a few minutes to warm up but once it does there is no stopping it. The jokes land, the violence thrills, the performances impress and the characters connect. Kingsman: The Secret Service is a success in nearly all regards and a pleasure throughout.