After the incredible success of teenage superhero flick Kick-Ass, director Matthew Vaughn turns his attentions to another anarchic work from comic book scribe Mark Millar. Kingsman: The Secret Service reinvents the Knights of the Round Table for the 21st century, as a top secret government agency, intent on protecting the world – and Britain in particular – whilst promoting chivalry and gentlemanly conduct with the mantra “manners maketh man”.
Convinced that good breeding has nothing to do with valour and heroism, “Galahad” (Colin Firth) takes a gamble on Eggsie (newcomer Taron Egerton), the wayward son of a fallen colleague, recruiting him into the Kingsmen training programme. Pitting Eggsie in a series of life-threatening challenges against a class of spoilt toffs – and the programme’s first girl (Sophie Cookson) – the film is clearly vying for the same audience as The Hunger Games, Divergent, Ender’s Game et al. However, as was the case with Vaughn and Millar’s previous collaboration, Kingsman juxtaposes its Young Adult pretensions with shamelessly lewd humour and wincingly over-the-top violence.
Colin Firth proves surprisingly lethal in this rare action outing for the erstwhile British gent, ably supported by Michael Caine and Mark Strong as his fellow Kingsmen. Samuel L. Jackson hams it up as a lisping American super-villain, complete with Sofia Boutella’s balletic, blade-legged assassin at his side. However, it is young Taron Egerton as Eggsie who steals the show, holding his own against Hollywood’s finest, confidently walking the line between cheeky wideboy, and suave super spy in-the-making.
This review first appeared in Cathay Pacific’s Discovery Magazine, May 2015