KINGSMAN: A Very British Service

Gail Williams goes undercover to check out Kingsman: The Secret Service.

I have just spent a fine afternoon with the family, which included a viewing of Kingsman: The Secret Service. Loved it!

Some may say that this is like a young James Bond, and I'd say they were wrong, this was way, WAY better. I've been forced to put up with James Bond since I was a kid, and until Skyfall which I enjoyed, I am more than happy to give those a miss. I gave Alex Rider: Stormbreaker a chance (an hour and a half of my life I'll never get back). But Kingsman I enjoyed, a lot. Okay I'll do my best not to give too many spoilers in this, but I have to rave.

You can't know about this movie and not know that Colin Firth is in it. All right, hands up I've been in “love” with Mr Firth since I watched him as Mr Darcy - Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberly, not the Bridget Jones abomination. But forget Darcy, this is Firth at his finest. Suave, sophisticated, skilled and full of savoir faire. Beautiful. Cool. Deadly.

Michael Caine had more gravitas as Arthur than he did as Alfred, and I thought he was good then. Jack Davenport gives a great, but all too brief performance. Then Mark Strong turns up on screen and OMG am I a happy bunny. So with great top level British actors gracing this film, I had high hopes. Even my 16 year old daughter was impressed with Strong in what she thinks is the first good guy role she's ever seen him play.

The young lead, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, is played by Taron Egerton, a new comer, but a good one. And I can't say finding out he's from Aberwystwyth detracted any. This is one newbee that looks like he has a good future as an actor. Are we seeing the next Welsh great in development?

Give credit where it’s due, he even did a good London accent. In the early scenes, he shows the character to be a bit of a wide boy and light fingered on the way.  I do wonder what Alfie would have thought of Eggsy, but not a lot of people will know that.  When Eggsy was being questioned by the police, I had the first of a number of inappropriate giggles thinking he was being interrogated by the guy who does the voice over for Salvage Hunters, which is Ralph Ineson, only Ralph isn’t listed on IMDB, yet I’m sure it was him.

Taron Egerton looked good in trainers and a hoodie, though the buttoned up polo shirt was a crime against fashion I'm not sure I can forgive. But he looks really great in a suit too. The plaid boiler suit – Nnnooooo!!!

Of course the Americans had to get a look in, and Samuel L Jackson is wonderful. Even the speech impediment worked. I think the last time I saw him play a role with such intense power was in Unbreakable (another movie worth a watch, but only the once). What I had to laugh at, was the first sight of Mark Hamill, again totally inappropriate, but then his appearance was totally unexpected too, the idea of Luke Skywalker in that moment just cracked me up. Hold my hands up, I have a sick and twisted sense of humour.

But when it comes to sick and twisted sense of humour that's nothing given Gazelle. The woman gives a whole new meaning to the description stiletto heel. Just for those who may not know a stiletto heel is named after an Italian thin bladed knife, particularly useful for slipping between the ribs and doing deadly damage.

Anyway Sofia Boutella plays the part beautifully, the fact that she is utterly beautiful is actually neither here nor there. Though I have to admit the second I saw her I thought of Anck Su Namun from The Mummy, but that probably has more to do with the hair cut than anything else. Gazelle runs on blades, literally, it's never explained if she's a double amputee or born without her lower legs, but she runs on curved blades and though those misshapen swords are straight rapier blades that she can extend at will, not surprisingly there are a lot of kicks and jumps in her fight scenes, rather balletic at times, the choreography for those scenes is breathtaking.

The way she slices through skin and bone is incredible, (utterly unrealistic as well, but don't let reality damage a good story) slices through guns too, very a al Deadpool.

Similarly I loved the switcheroo when instead of a fancy dinner that you think is going to be served, the dome is pulled back to reveal a selection of McDonalds burgers and fries. One of the most obvious laughs in the piece, but it was also one of the more obvious product placements, Guinness was another one. They have to have sponsored the movie because some of the pieces in the pub are too valuable to be in an establishment where there is a lot of fighting.

The first fight scene in the pub is wonderful, the goons threaten the good guys, then Galahad looks like he's going to walk away, but instead, he locks the pub door and beats the daylights out of the bad guys. The fact that this is echoed at the end of the film is equally brilliant.

Even Samantha Womack couldn't ruin this movie, though she somehow managed to look older in the ‘seventeen-years-ago’ scene than the ‘now’ ones.

Any good spy movie has to have some good gadgets, and this one has plenty, including bullet proof umbrellas, but what I loved most was that it was some of the simpler, older moves which were used to such great effect. Even simple misdirection that you didn't see coming.

One of the scenes that was just a little odd, very funny, but perhaps a little over the top was very near the end. The soundtrack blares, all pomp and circumstance, triumph and achievement, as heads explode to the big notes. It was very funny, an effective match of imagery and music, but several seconds too long. Gratuitous explosions and death, even when amusing, have a limit.

This film never takes itself too seriously, which is wonderful, but there's more swearing in it than I expected, and I am a terror for turning the air blue. Also, I could have done without the last gratuitous shot of a bare arse (as pretty and pert as it was), it did leave me wondering if it was really necessary.

So that’s the rave, now for the rant. I have to point out that the one thing bugged the hell out of me. In one sequence there is a lift that takes the form of the floor of a dressing room going down, to an inordinate depth. The chances of that under Saville Row are slim enough, but I can suspend disbelief long enough to not mind that. What I mind, is that all the way down the wood of the floor is a millimetre or two from the wall, but when they reach the bottom, the base of this shaft is tiled and the tiles are toped with moulded dado tiles - tiles way thicker than the gap between the wall and lift floor.  In other words, the lift would have got stuck. Quite why I can't suspend disbelief over points like this I'm not sure, except for the fact that they are so basic, they shouldn't happen. Just as it's not possible to punch out glass that's strong enough to hold back a room full of water, yet our young hero does just that.

So, does Eggsy have a future in the movies?  Maybe, as long as it's only one sequel, more than that and he'll turn into a Joking James Bond and that’ll never work. On the other hand, this may be one of those stories that would be best left in a single wonderful installment.

Overall this is a great and very British caper that deserves a view, and possibly even several. I know I'd like see it again as I suspect that there were things I missed, subtle in jokes that are always in these kind of movies. 

Kingsman: The Secret Service was well worth the ticket price, I’d recommend it.

Gail Williams lives in her own private dungeon populated with all the weird and the wonderful she can imagine. Some of it’s very weird, and the odd bits and pieces are a bit wonderful. Well okay, she lives in Swansea with her husband and daughter. And the world’s most demanding cat. To find out more about Gail, check out - Dare you!
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