FILM REVIEW: Questionable end to impressive thriller

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Kingsman: The Secret Service
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REVIEW: KINGSMAN – THE SECRET SERVICE (15)

SHOWCASE CINEMAS PETERBOROUGH, OUT NOW

CAST: TARON EGERTON, COLIN FIRTH, MARK STRONG, SAMUEL L JACKSON, MICHAEL CAINE, SOPHIE COOKSON, JACK DAVENPORT, EDWARD HOLCROFT, SOFIA BOUTELLA, SAMANTHA WOMACK & MARK HAMILL

RUNNING TIME: 2 HRS 9 MINS

DIRECTOR: MATTHEW VAUGHN

This impressive spy thriller has some fantastic things going for it – but is bizarrely hampered from greatness with a very, very, questionable ending that pushes the boundaries of taste.

In fact, it’s a great shame that a lot of Matthew Vaughn’s – the man behind Kick Ass and X-Men: First Class – laudable work could leave a sour taste in your mouth due to five or six of crude (bordering on vulgar) one-liners and unnecessary sexism that just seem out of place.

But let’s move onto the positive points (which there are many) as Vaughn’s take on Mark Millar’s acclaimed comic-book tells the story of a super-secret spy organisation – led by Michael Caine’s Arthur, with Colin Firth’s veteran top agent Harry ‘Galahad’ Hart and ‘Q-like’ tech-man Merlin (Mark Strong) by his side – that masquerades inside a London tailor shop.

But when a global threat from Samuel L Jackson’s lispy entrepreneur and twisted tech-genius Valentine – complete with blade-footed femme fatale sidekick Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) – rears its ugly head, Hart must look for the next agent to join the team.

He recruits promising street kid Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin to join a band a fledgling wannabes – including Roxy (Sophie Cookson) – who must prove he’s up to the job, along with helping clear Hart’s conscience after Eggsy’s Dad saved his life two decades earlier.

With some tremendous action set-pieces – that has more than a smattering of Vaughn’s Kick Ass about it – topped off with a breathtaking ‘church’ shoot-out involving Firth’s Hart, there is much to be enjoyed here.

Throw in Egerton’s charismatic and cheeky turn as Eggsy, which is complemented by the evergreen presence of Strong (particularly) and Firth (who is in danger of getting a little stereotyped though) – and a movie soundtrack which is the best this side of Guardians of the Galaxy – and you’ve got a film that is prepared to take risks, and for the most part works.

Sadly it doesn’t quite know what to be which prevents it from being truly spectacular.

It seems to fluctuate between a ‘12A’ and ‘18’ – due to the violence, swearing and aforementioned crudeness – and never quite gets its tone right before ending up as ‘15’.

Also Jackson’s bad guy could be borderline annoying to some, Roxy’s female agent is scandalously reduced to a bit part ending, and Caine’s role is arguably one of the most pointless he’s done, and a waste of his talent.

But despite the intermittently – and glaringly obvious – obnoxious flaws, this shouldn’t detract away from the risky work that has gone into this project, that really pushes the envelope for the spy genre.

For that it deserves immense props, and is why, it just, just, gets a four-star review.

And any film that includes Mark ‘Luke Skywalker’ Hamill (albeit in a small role) has got to be worth the watch.

By Gavin Miller – Rating: 4/5