‘Kingsman’ is high octane drug with no crash

By Jacob Pierce, JacobPierce1_DE

“X-Men: First Class” was a surprise hit. The film was given a death sentence early on by many critics for being pushed back from its release date. This was until audiences were captivated by director Matthew Vaughn’s style. 

So it was a surprise when Vaughn dropped out of the much-anticipated sequel for the film. He opted out of the next X-Men movie to direct “Kingsman: The Secret Service” (Rated R; 131 min) instead.

“Kingsman: The Secret Service” is an action comedy starring Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Samuel L. Jackson and Taron Egerton. 

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The Kingsman are an elite secret service set on protecting England and the entire world.  They have been around since World War I and value confidentiality above all else. Only the classiest of individuals are chosen to join. That is, until Garry “Eggsy” Unwin comes along, played by Egerton.

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Unwin is a young street thug with no future in sight. His father, a former Kingsman, died when Unwin was a child and since then his life has been at a standstill. Agent Harry Hart, played by Firth, offers him a chance to join the group. He is thrown into the world of espionage, gadgets and megalomaniac villains.

It was hard to get a vibe from “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” Vaughn is one of the few directors working who rarely misses.  Everything from “Kickass” to “Layer Cake” has been a critical success. On the other hand, the trailer for the film looked outright ridiculous. While absurdity can work well, it can also blow up in your face.

The ludicrousness of the film not only works, but it serves as a tribute to a long-gone genre. Before the age of serious spy movies like “Skyfall” and the Bourne series, spy films tended to not take themselves very seriously. 

Vaughn captures the key quality of the classic genre and manages to add his own style to it.  A lot of directors fall into a trap and make a tribute film void of their own vision. Vaughn does not make this mistake; he brings the hyperrealism and brutality he became famous for.  

The film is loaded with fantastic supporting actors in Caine, Firth and Strong, who all bring an English quality to the movie that makes it classy. Even Jackson gave a performance new and unique in comparison to his usual roles. The acting is so strong in the film even the newcomers pull off great performances.

One of the weakest aspects of the movie is its main character, Unwin. What could be an interesting role is hurt by uneven persona development. This is unfortunate, because he starts from an amazing place. He is an underprivileged young adult trying to gain access to a group full of elitists, forced to become a man at an early age and looking for a way to show his greatness. He is a Joseph Campbell like hero waiting to happen.

This opportunity is wasted every second the character faces a problem. Every time he is given a chance to learn or a chance to show off interesting dynamics, he becomes the “coolest” character in the room. Nothing he does is ever wrong and no one can be as amazing as him.

The movie is already getting polarized criticisms. Some are calling it a fun homage to the old Bond, while others claim it is a film for “bros.” To me, it was a nice surprise. In a weekend with possibly the worst movie of the year, “Kingsman” served as an amazing relief.

Stars: 4 out of 5

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