Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

Rating: B-

Dir: Matthew Vaughn
Star: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong

From the director and creator of Kick-Ass, this shares a similar style and approach, although rather than putting its own spin on the world of superheroes, it’s more aiming at the likes of James Bond, Mission Impossible and Spy Kids. Rebellious teenager Eggsy (Egerton) discovers that his late father was a member of a super-secret private intelligence organization known as Kingsman, founded after the Great War to protect the world. A colleague of his dad, Harry Hart (Firth) sees untapped potential in the kid, and selects him as a possible recruit, going through a rigorous training course under ‘Merlin’ (Strong). Eggsy is rejected after refusing an order to shoot his pet dog, but after it turns out that the Kingsman harbouring a traitor in their midst, his skills become needed to save humanity from Richmond Valentine (Jackson).

Valentine has decided that mankind is a virus infecting Earth, with a massive cull of population is required in order to proceed, and has developed technology which, when triggered, will turn people on each other in a vicious and unstoppable frenzy. Yeah, it’s mostly 007, though garnished with some My Fair Lady [explicitly mentioned at one point, even though it hardly seems the kind of film Eggsy would know], with a vibe specifically aimed at the younger audience, which is a little odd, because the language and some of the content is pretty mature (actually, it’s more immature). What works best are the surreally imaginative touches, such as Valentine’s chief sidekick being a woman who runs around (and fights, really well) on Pistorius-style blades instead of legs. Why? Who cares.

I also laughed like a DRAIN at the exploding head montage, set to Land of Hope and Glory – though I’ve no idea what Americans thought of that, since the tune is known here much more for its use at school graduations. Outside of that, it’s a bit of a mixed bag; while slickly-produced, the supposed hero is a non-entity, much less interesting or memorable than both his mentor and the villain. Still, it was fun, and certainly didn’t feel more than two hours long; in the likely event it ends up turning into a franchise, I wouldn’t mind too much. At least, unless it heads south in the same way as Kick-Ass 2