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MOVIE REVIEW: Kingsman: The Secret Service

By Jason Ooi

A high-octane, laid back parody of the spy genre, Kingsman really practices the aloofness that it preaches.

Imagine my surprise when I exited the theater in love with all of the parts I despised from the various teasers and trailers. Samuel L. Jackson’s queasy, fashion-confused (or adjusted), lisp-talking villain, Colin Firth’s classy, haughty spy, and even Taron Egerton’s seemingly undeserved potential all come together to form a cohesive, no-holds barred, joyride completely mocking the seriousness of the newer additions to the spy genre.

The film depicts the journey of a young English chav with good intentions as he is recruited into the Kingsman Secret Service. It follows him as he trains, competes, and fights for a spot on the round table of agents, as well as for the sake of the world when a tech mastermind decides to unleash the plot of Steven King’s Cell on the world, turning the entirety of the planet rabid and uninhibited while he and a group of those deemed worthy celebrate their sole existence.

The best thing about Kingsman is its self-awareness. It knows exactly what it is and strives not to be anything but pure action and fun. Its characters are perfectly aware that they are but living in a departure from the overtly stern new wave of spy movies, and makes sure that they don’t fall into the generally prevalent cliches that encapsulate them. As the characters often mention when faced with the perfect opportunity to exemplify the aforementioned cliches, “It’s not that kind of movie“.

The film is full of laughs, especially found through the perfect anti-villain, played by Samuel L. Jackson. It’s campy and exaggerated and filled with a substantial amount of cheese, otherwise negative film qualities that manage to come together with the stylistic choices of Matthew Vaughn beautifully to make a movie that will ensure a smile on your face throughout its run time. Kingsman is entertainment made to near perfection.

Then at one point in the film, a hand is scanned and a button is switched on and Kingsman and the world within it goes batshit crazy. The antics and the fun and games all fade into a different form of entertainment, one spurred now by thrill and suspense rather than the overarching sense of comedy. Fueled by raving action sequences and brilliant scenes of choreography mixed with amazing stylistic choices reminiscent of 2006’s 300, Kingsman completely engrosses, entrenching you in its antithetical visual beauty. It imbues all of this action with an almost awkward utilization of CGI that works surprisingly well, granting the film the aesthetics of a comic book that makes the Technicolor firework head explosions at the end a politically neutral endeavor.

The acting in this film is surprisingly fantastic. Colin Firth plays the suave epitome of class that every man strives to be brilliantly and very British-like. Taron Egerton completely comes out of nowhere and makes his thuggish disposition extremely likable, adding a sense of genuineness that is lost within the confines of the chivalrous agency. He manages to really stay noticeable in a cast that features such heavy hitters. The real standout within the cast of gentlemen, is Samuel L. Jackson however, who manages to force laughter with every scene he shows up in. He’s completely aware that his life resembles the films that he remembers so vividly growing up, and he completely disrespects their formulaic format.

The film however, does fall flat in conveying the sense of grandeur with the titular agency. While all of the world’s denizens are in trouble, where are the other twelve Knights of the Round Table? We only ever get to witness two Kingsman in action, a realization that left me disappointed, but hopeful in a possible franchise (a hope that hopefully doesn’t repeat my feelings withKick Ass 2.

Kingsman, the first surprise of the new year, ultimately manages to impress and entertain, making 130 minutes of fast-paced fun seem entirely fluid. The direction is superb, the acting and the action is fantastic. Kingsman exudes such a comical absurdity that makes it impossible to gawk at it without an unfaltering smile on one’s face.