Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Review: Kingsman - The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service (third-pass)
Cert: 15 / 126 mins / Dir. Matthew Vaughn / Trailer

When I was four, I wanted to be Mark Hamill. Well, I wanted to be Luke Skywalker, but the two were indistinguishable at that age, and remained so for some time. Whether it was the loose-fitting desert tunic, the pristine stolen stormtrooper armour or a heavy-drill orange flight-suit, these were outfits I wanted to wear, to be like my hero. Forty years later, I watch Mark Hamill in this movie*1, an appreciator of fine whisky in a brown corduroy jacket… and nothing has changed.

Anyhow, from the mind of Mark Millar comes Kingsman: The Secret Service, the comic-book roots spawning a perfect cinematic mashup of spies and superheroes. After its original run two and a half years ago, revisiting Eggsy's first outing on a big screen doesn't really deliver any new or prescient insights, it's just bloody good fun still. Back in 2015, this felt like it could be the first charge in a new wave of action cinema; not so much re-inventing the wheel, just reminding you how cool the wheel can be when it's done right, although tonally we haven't since had anything comparable other than Deadpool and maybe John Wick.

Absolutely perfect in its pacing and approach, this is the classic Hero's Journey for the 21st century. While Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Sam Jackson are all great value for money, Taron Egerton holds the whole thing together effortlessly, suggesting that he's going to be a (welcome) fixture on our screens for many years to come.

It's perhaps notable that the film which ran tonight was the original cinematic print, rather than one of the edited versions that later hit the home-release market. Fair play to 20th Century Fox*2 for sticking to their guns with that one, I suppose; it passed classification once and there's no point being defensively revisionist about it, right?*3

But all in all, this is amazing. And the church-scene is still one of the greatest action sequences ever committed to film. Kingsman: The Secret Service is a thing of profane beauty…

Oh but for the record, you do realise that even if the gun is loaded with blanks, you'll still be looking after a deafened dog for the rest of its traumatised life, don't you? Well done Caine, now get back in your bloody attick…

So, watch this if you enjoyed?
Kick-Ass, Deadpool.

Should you watch this in a cinema, though?
If you get the opportunity, hell yes.

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Hell yes.

Is this the best work of the cast or director?
As fantastic as the movie is, probably not, due to the strength of the talent involved.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Yes, but is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
I'm not hearing one. Help me out here?

Yes, but what's the Star Wars connection?
Level 1: This film's got Mace Windu and Luke Skywalker in it of course, but as of December last year, Lt. Frobb from off of Rogue One is there, too.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Although this time Mark is the tutor, and it's Taron Egerton who gets to shoot white-armoured troops while running around polished corridors in an enemy fortress to rescue a princess. Boom. [ BACK ]

*2 It hasn't escaped my attention that in Harry's office, all the front-pages he has on display are from The S*n newspaper, owned by one R*pert M*rdoch, the same tycoon also owns 20th Century Fox, this film's distributor. And sure, this could be a coincidence, until you get to the sequel film in which all news-bulletin reports (even ones taking place in the UK) are branded as F*x News, also owned by… well, you get the picture. And as much as I try not to let my political affiliations colour either this blog or my cinema-viewing in general, I'd be lying if I said that didn't leave a slightly bad taste in the mouth. [ BACK ]

*3 Knowing I'd be writing separately about The Secret Service, I went back over my two previous reviews in 2015 to see what I'd covered at the time. I'd forgotten quite how annoyed I was by the film's gender politics. Not necessarily how shoddily the female characters are treated (cf. most other screenplays, ever), but how that's come about when the rest of the movie is so consistently strong. Let's just say that while I still genuinely love the first Kingsman flick, I stand by every single word I wrote about its flaws.
[ BACK ]

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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