Yesterday I was lucky enough to see a preview screening of Kingsman: The Secret Service in Camberley, Surrey, where there had been a lot of buzz back in October 2013 about filming going on in the area. And it was indeed pretty awesome, for the scene in which The Garrison Church of St. Barbara is used is absolutely brutal, gory and fun – three words that sum up the whole film.
The plot follows Eggsy (Taron Egerton), whose father is killed while being a spy for Kingsman when he’s just a young boy and who is later taken under the wing of Harry Hart (Colin Firth), whose life was saved along with many others by Eggsy’s dad. Eggsy is submitted as one of 12 recruits to be dwindled down to just one after another agent’s death (a brilliant five-minute appearance from Jack Davenport as Lancelot) and becomes caught up in the investigation into evil billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) who is handing out free SIM cards for unlimited internet and phone calls for, obviously, no sinister reason at all….
Firstly, Colin Firth is totally badass – a far cry from the prissy wet-shirted Mr Darcy (not that there was anything wrong with him, of course. They’re just different). In an early scene, he uses a pimped out umbrella to take out a whole gang at the same time and later on, while under the influence of waves omitted by the aforementioned SIM cards, he takes out a whole congregation. Firth is consistently charming, funny and smooth.
Eggsy goes from rags to riches charmingly, never forgetting his mum, and the bond between him and a ridiculous little pug is adorable. Egerton is certainly one to watch. Mark Strong was a stand out and Samuel L. Jackson was brilliant as a lisping villain who can’t stand the sight of blood.
In common with Kick Ass, made by the same team of Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, the violence is gory and in your face, but funny. The money shots are given little enough screen time that it’s not too gruesome but the impact is still made. For example, towards the beginning a man is sliced down the beginning by a woman’s prosthetic legs. For anyone who still questions the capabilities of the disabled and even Paralympians, this character – Valentine’s henchwoman, Gazelle – is the perfect rebuttal.
I was worried that Kingsman would be hit and miss, too over the top while taking itself far too seriously. But it strikes the balance excellently between humour and action, rebuffing spy tropes and James Bond conventions in general. It proves that a film can be original and fun without having to rely on comfortable cliches – while bringing the happy message that anyone can be a gentleman, regardless of upbringing or gender.