New spy film different, but good

Gavin Gaddis

Stylized action, gun fights, fun gadgets, likeable characters and loveable villains are all present in this love letter to spy films of yesteryear from director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class).

A chance meeting with gentleman spy Harry Hart (Colin Firth) gives Eggsy, our main hero, a shot at joining the top-secret British spy agency known as the Kingsman.

During Eggsy’s training, the Kingsmen find themselves pitted against a psychotic billionaire –simply named Valentine- hell-bent on saving the environment, no matter the cost.

Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) is insane beyond a doubt, but his motivations place him just within the realm of believability. His traits (a noticeable lisp and hemophobia) raise him above one-dimensional bad guy into something memorable.

The film’s supporting actors cover a range of yesteryear stars, ranging from spymaster Michael Caine, to Q surrogate Mark Strong, to a delightful bumbling professor played by Mark Hamill.

Director Matthew Vaughn’s action pedigree is evident in the perfect marriage of fight choreography and editing found in Kingsman’s fight scenes. If Kick-Ass’s fights were a warm-up, this film is gold-metal material.

From the exhilarating hand-to-hand combat scenes with Valentine’s deadly assistant (a deadly double amputee who walks on razor-sharp blades) to gadget-filled gun battles, Kingsman runs the gamut of spy movie excitement.

Any doubt of Firth’s capability as an action star are dashed during an intense 15 minute fight sequence when he single-handedly defends himself/kills upwards of fifty people in one room.

In the scene Firth expends several clips of ammunition, uses a grenade, and employs several sharp implements. Due to clever cutting, use of music, and strategic camera shakes; the audience can feel very bullet impact and wince at every cut.

While not as gory as a Tarantino blood-fest, Kingsman is not held back by the Bond franchise’s ridiculous decision not to show blood during gunfights.

Some plot points and set pieces run the risk of being re-hashes of earlier spy films, but Kingsman’s curious self-aware nature shoots right past hokey and takes these moments right into ridiculous.

Daniel Craig once claimed that all Bond films must be realistic and gritty to be successful, Kingsman: The Secret Service is the perfect counterargument. This film manages to handle both upholding the integrity of the Gentleman Spy subgenre while also satirizing it in ways Austin Powers could only dream of.