Kingsman: The Secret Service (15)

An elite spy organisation recruits an unrefined but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted technology genius.

They say the clothes make the man, and these are some killer threads. Not only does Harry Hart (Colin Firth) know the importance of a bespoke suit but he can also floor a band of villains with precise zeal and nifty gadgets in a matter of seconds.

Harry is the Obi-Wan Kenobi to Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a good-natured but troubled kid living in a Kidulthood style apartment block with his Mum and abusive stepdad.

His biological father, who died years ago, had a secret identity. He was a Kingsman, and now that Eggsy has come of age (and is on the wrong side of the law), that mysterious group has recruited him for training, too.

Kingsman is a highly advanced, well-funded independent secret service with no ties to any government. They aren’t accustomed to taking in strays, opting for the toffee-nosed Etonian type of gent instead.

Harry takes Eggsy on a trip on a secret underground system that whisks them from London to the agency’s manor on the outskirts of town. It’s here that Eggsy will train, Ender’s Game-style, and compete for the one open slot on the roster.

Kingsman needs a new member because when a mission went tits up one of their agents was sliced in two thanks to a gorgeous female henchman with razor-blade prosthetics for legs. His weird death is part of a nefarious scheme by Kingsman’s nemesis, Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a Mark Zuckerberg-meets-Dr Evil type and source of some of the movie’s most unexpected gags.

The psychotic baddie has a thick lisp, a penchant for wearing baseball caps indoors and he can’t stand the sight of blood, hence the need for ruthless henchmen.

Fellow Kingsman Arthur (Michael Caine) doesn’t think Harry’s candidate stands a chance and he may be on to something. Once Eggsy dons the proper garb and he loses the “bruvs” My Fair Lady style, he’s still the arrogant twit he was at the start of the escapade.

When Hart and Valentine finally have their tête-à-tête at his headquarters they dine on Maccy D’s served as if they’re the finest cuisine in the land. And they discuss the absurdity of James Bond movies.

But it’s made clear throughout that this isn’t you’re a-typical spy movie. In a gruesome church meltdown Harry goes mano- a-mano with an entire congregation, followed by some screenplay twists that wouldn’t happen in a normal action movie.

Valentine’s convoluted plan to conquer the world involves hacking our precious mobile phones through which he intends to snuff an all-too-eager population.

It’s a shame that the movie succumbed to laddish humour, ending on a rather bum note (quite literally).

Director Matthew Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman worked from a comic book by Mark Millar, who also provided source material for their similar (exceptionally better) Kick-Ass.

The duo have tried to combine the spirit of 007 with the humour of Johnny English and the violence of Kick Ass. The result is a movie that doesn’t fit into one genre, and although sometimes that can be a good thing, that certainly isn’t true of Kingsman. Like a spy, Kingsman is a movie lacking an identity.

There are plenty of direct references to Bond movies throughout, like how to mix a martini, dress to the nines and showcase your weaponry. However Kingsman takes Bond’s vodka martini and adds a shot of disappointment to the mix.

By Ruth Walker
★★★☆☆

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