February 20, 2015
When Eggsy was a toddler, his father was killed in the line of work. He was given a special medal by a well-dressed gentleman, telling him that he can call when he is in trouble. Seventeen years later, growing up in a rough London suburb, Eggsy got himself thrown in jail after engaging police in a backwards car chase. He calls the number behind the medal, and in comes the dapper Harry Hart to the rescue. Knowing Eggsy's wasted talents in gymnastics and academics, Harry brings him to try out for a vacancy in his ultra-secret spy organization, the Kingsmen.
The fun begins with the opening credits, when letters would form out of the rubble that fell from various explosions of an ancient temple, to the tune of Dire Straits' hit "Money for Nothing". You knew by then that you should be ready for something tongue-in-cheek. The beginning sequences do not hide the fact that this would be a graphically violent film. Throughout the film we will be regaled with fights with guns, bombs, and blades, all in extraordinarily spectacular fashion we have never seen before.
Colin Firth, an actor who is practically typecast as the shy guy in romantic comedies, shows a totally screen persona here. As Harry Hart, aka Galahad, he is a swashbuckling super spy like we have never seen him before. Mark Strong makes another memorable screen appearance as Merlin, the Number 2 man among the Kingsmen. The ever reliable Michael Caine plays Arthur, the head Kingsman. He can play this type of role with his eyes closed.
Samuel L. Jackson is hilarious as the villain Richmond Valentine, an insane megalomaniac telecom tycoon with a lisp planning to have mankind kill each other. Exotic beauty Sofia Boutella is Valentine's vicious henchman Gazelle, a graceful killer with her deadly sharp prosthetic legs. Mark Hamill was unrecognizable as the elderly environmentalist Professor Arnold, whose abduction starts the action.
The biggest surprise is the breakthrough star-making performance of Taron Egerton as Eggsy. In the beginning it took some time getting used to the new face. But as the film went on, Egerton will possess the screen with his action skills and suave charm. He stood his ground, even in the strong presence of his esteemed co-stars. By the time the film ends, you could not wait to see more of this young man in future films.
Overall, this is a very entertaining, visually stimulating film. The production design, with all those gadgetry and weaponry, is very inventive and eye-catching. The musical score is pulsating and exciting. The action sequences were really relentlessly bloody, with various body parts getting impaled, sliced off or blowing up. Yet, this was all done with typically British wry humor and aristocratic class.
Director Matthew Vaughn takes the James Bond genre, and mixes in the superhero and hi-tech elements of two excellent films he directed before ("Kick-Ass" and "X-Men: First Class"), as well as some Cockney elements from his earlier productions like "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels". With "Kingsman", Vaughn has actually managed to create something even more fantastic. This is the best 2015 release so far. 9/10.