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Review | Kingsman: The Secret Service

If Kingsman: The Secret Service were a cocktail, it’d be one part hero’s journey, one part spy spoof, and one part super-stylized action flick, seasoned with a dash of ultra-reactionary bitters and served in a double rocks glass, ice-cold. Sounds like a pretty good cocktail don't you think? After years of horrendous spoof films such as “Scary Movie 5” and “A Haunted House,” “Kingsman: The Secret Service” serves as an exhilarating, hilarious revitalization for the genre. The film’s stunning action, witty humor and enjoyable performances make it an early candidate for most enjoyable picture of the year. 

After a tough street kid named Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is caught joyriding, he gets bailed out by a mysterious and well-dressed man who claims to have known Eggsy’s deceased father. The mystery man, Harry Hart (Colin Firth), sees potential in Eggsy and reveals he worked with Eggsy’s father as an agent for the Kingsmen — an espionage group dedicated to stopping anyone who threatens the world. Deciding he has nothing to lose, Eggsy begins his training as a Kingsman. Meanwhile, Harry investigates the activities of tech tycoon Richman Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) and his assistant Gazelle (Sofia Boutella). As Eggsy fits into his role as a Kingsman agent, he and Harry must thwart Richman’s plan to unleash chaos upon the world.

Director Matthew Vaughn, who directed the ultra-violent superhero satire “Kick-Ass,” returns with more grisly mayhem. The violence is indeed bloody, but the humor in Vaughn and Jane Goldman’s script evens out the ridiculous body count. The film’s wit can make the goriest scenes funny, including a sequence where the heads of several dignitaries under Richman’s control explode in synchronized fashion. Though he includes several graphic scenes, it never feels like the director takes the violence too far

Another of the film’s more enjoyable aspects is its creativity. It’s clear the gadgets in the film take inspirations from the wonderful toys that James Bond uses in his war on crime. From exploding cigarette lighters to bulletproof umbrellas, the technology pay homage to classic spy technology while also giving the film a special touch. Of course, the Kingsman agents, who prove that it’s possible to fight crime while impeccably dressed, are a deeply amusing part of the movie. Although inspired by other fictional espionage groups, the Kingsmen feel fully fleshed out. The action is beautifully choreographed and expertly shot. Unlike quickly-edited fights in mediocre action flicks, it’s incredibly easy to absorb the frantic motions in every brawl. Every punch is shot for maximum clarity. Vaughn possesses a sixth sense for organizing shootouts, so the audience sees every bullet hit its mark. The greatest example of his mastery involves a scene where Firth decimates waves of crazed people in a church, using everything from knives to a pipe organ.

This is a movie that conspicuously celebrates gentlemanly virtues, mocks a plan to give everyone free access to the Internet, and sees a component of Ronald Reagan’s SDI save the day. This is a movie that tells its protagonist to quit blaming others—the system, his mother, his friends—for his problems and to take responsibility for his actions and his life. This is a movie that posits the only people capable of saving the day are a group of aristocrats who operate a private peacekeeping organization free of constraints imposed by bureaucratic meddling or the need to coddle our enemies.Did I also mention that there are a huge amount of quotes to live by in this film? No? Well there are.