Matthew Vaughn blows the bloody doors off with Kingsman: The Secret Service...

We could argue about this all night, but is there a more exciting British director working today than Matthew Vaughn? Possibly not. Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class and now Kingsman: The Secret Service - Vaughn makes it five for five, and if anything his latest release has eclipsed every movie in his back catalogue.

If you've read the original comic book series (co-written by Vaughn with Mark Miller) then you'll know what's in store - although there are plenty of surprises as the story makes the transition to the big screen. For the uninitiated, think of how an 18 rated Roger Moore James Bond film would've turned out and you're half way there.

In many ways you could claim that this is to Bond what Game Of Thrones is to Lord Of The Rings, it's the same genre but with the brakes taken off. Kingsman: The Secret Service has the ingenious Bond gadgets and the suave hero with the ability to identify a rare brand of Scotch from just smell alone. It has the Bond-ish megalomaniac villain, complete with his deadly Hench-Women who has blades where her legs used to be. But in its execution it differs greatly. Whereas Bond has attempted on occasion to show the violence the job involves, understandably it has to stay within the confines of the franchise - there are no confines here my friend, and so no limit on the violence. Then there's the classic Bond double entendre, which has been (largely) replaced by very grounded, very true to character, filthy humour. Frankly, Kingsman: The Secret Service is the most fun 007 movie you can imagine.

That's not to say that all we have here is a pastiche of a Bond film, but you can't help but draw the parallels. It's been created by a group of people who clearly love 007, they even name check the franchise in the script. There are homages to many other classic spy-fi brands (Get Smart springs to mind), and there are also elements of Pygmalion about the movie as class comes into play in the development of our young protagonist. That would be relative newcomer Taron Egerton as Eggsy, who capably holds his own against the parade of heavyweight talent around him. Expect more from Egerton, I get the feeling this role might just do for him what Hit-Girl did for Chloe Grace Moretz.

One of the real highlights of Kingsman: The Secret Service is the way that many of the key roles in the movie have been cast against type. When it was announced that Colin Firth was playing Uncle Harry I was more than a bit hesitant. We've all seen him as the stiff upper lip typical Hollywood embodiment of a British Gentleman, he's been in Bridget Jones, Pride & Prejudice and recently won an Oscar for The King's Speech. In short, you don't hear the name Colin Firth and think action movie star! But I was entirely wrong to have any doubts, he's nothing short of magnificent and proves that his best actor Oscar was well deserved. Then there's Samuel L Jackson, who recently has had a touch of the Harrison Ford about him, in that he just looks bored in every role he's playing. Not here though, and it might just be because its not your typical Sam Jackson character, you haven't seen him in a part like this before. Which is just another example of the excellent casting throughout.
From pretty much out the gate Kingsman will make your inner geek squeal with delight. And just when you think it can't get any better... it does! The last 30 minutes are amongst the craziest segments I've ever witnessed in an action movie. Draw dropping, "I can't believe they did that" moments combined with punch-the-air awesomeness.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is not going to be for everyone. If you're easily offended (or read The Daily Mail) then stay at home - you have "disgusted" letters to write and phone calls of complaint to make. If you like your action movies to come in the watered down Expendables 3 variety then this isn't for you. However, if you're down for some balls-to-the-wall over the top violence combined with buckets of humour and a multitude of bat-shit crazy scenes (literally) ripped from the pages of a comic book, then book your ticket now my friend, you're in for a wild ride.

Kingsmen: The Secret Service arrives in UK cinemas on January 29th. Our American friends have to wait until 13th February.
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