If you are expecting sincerity, don’t. If you are expecting a genuine and austere piece of art, don’t. If you are expecting a metamorphic, other-worldly experience by which all your nagging life questions are answered, don’t. “This ain’t that kind of film, bruv.”
But if, by any chance, you are expecting a surprisingly well-executed, humorous take on the action genre, poking fun at the over-seriousness of modern attempts – by all means, expect away. Kingsman: The Secret Service does just that.
The film is undoubtedly sharp and polished – like Colin Firth in a three-piece suit. Firth plays a luxuriously posh and well-mannered secret agent who, after a fellow agent’s noble demise and the spotting of potential in his hero’s son, Eggsy, does all he can to train him for a life as a fellow Kingsman in his father’s honour. Eggsy is a typical South London geezer – the man with the friends and the enemies, and a prison-shaped prophecy waiting in the wings. With an abusive stepdad and a seemingly dead-end future, he accepts the training offer with a nothing-to-lose attitude. He may not have been so indifferent had he known the rules of the game. All the while, in true action style, super villain Richmond Valentine offers the world free SIM cards in a ludicrous attempt to do…well, villainy things.
I imagine it is an insanely convoluted job to choreograph mutli-minute-long fight sequences, involving a plethora of expensive actors and enough slo-mo to reverse the advancing nature of time. And yet Matthew Vaughn, with his filmic melting pot of Layer Cake and X-Men boiling over into a satisfying concoction clearly visible on screen, tackles the bastard with unfettering skill. One character has blades for legs…need I say any more? And while the battles play out, Vaughn and the writers never miss a chance to sprinkle a dash of comedy, continuing to pay homage to classic action flicks. Plenty of sarcasm and irony grace the screen, without the irritating aroma of unnecessary love interests – a refreshing decision considering the omnipresent watchful eye of cash-in romance-ifiers, Twentieth Century Fox. And it is confident – confident in its own flair.
As we scuttled back to the car post-viewing, our eyes now suspiciously scanning the Valentine’s displays littering shop windows, my dad hit the nail on the head. Like a Bond-worthy martini, it has just the right balance. It has equal valour in its austerity and in its humour, knowing just when to cross the line between genuine emotion and just having a laugh. It isn’t inhumanly sentimental but it isn’t paper-thin. And while it may not be completely memorable or life-changing, it doesn’t try to be. It simply is and does, without taking no for an answer.