This new action comedy from Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass), Kingsman: The Secret Service, riffs on old spy movies, class divides and Tarentino-style violence. Based on the comic book from Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, Kingsman radiates Saville Row and good Scotch, jamming in gadgets and secret lairs galore.

This kind of pastiche isn’t new (Johnny English, Austin Powers) and to this expanding genre, Vaughn injects a flamboyant, occasionally tacky, lads’ mag quality with a modern twist: Kingsman’s billionaire villain (Samuel L. Jackson) is fanatical about the environment. This maniacal version of a Steve Jobs tycoon is notable for his sheer Americanism, an affection for baseball caps and McDonalds.
Kingsman Colin Firth

Jackson’s eccentric performance is an enjoyable contrast to the British archetypes brought by spies Michael Caine, Mark Strong and Colin Firth (whose nimble, Kill Bill style martial arts makes jaws drop). Yet Kingsman’s central culture clash comes, not from this anglo-american sparring, but from car thief ‘Eggsy’ (Taron Egerton) entering the elitist spy agency as its newest trainee.

In Kingsman, ‘being a gentleman has nothing to do with accent’. Such instructive chestnuts challenge class stereotypes but Vaughn garbles the message, enthusiastically embracing cockney clichés and a simplistic, outdated view of London’s unemployed. Vaughn’s film applauds bettering oneself while curling its lip at tabloid readers who put ‘Brad Pitt ate my sandwich’ on the front page.

Kingsman is exuberant and energetic, its action is slick and relentless, but even Eggsy recognises it’s as much My Fair Lady as it is Roger Moore’s James Bond.
 

VERDICT: ✭ ✭ ✭ 3/5

 

Certificate: 15
Running Time: 129 minutes
Images: © TM and © 2014 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
UK Release Date: 29 January 2015

 

Review first printed in Ashfield & Mansfield Chad

Every week Writer Loves Movies will feature one rapid review of a new mainstream movie release.
 
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