Spy movies, particularly the James Bond ones, are getting really, really serious these days. Back in the day, those movies were all about evil international plots, ambitious supervillains, and awesome gadgets you wish you have. Now, we mostly have spy movies which the villains have to comply with international laws to do petty evil plans in secrecy, like crashing the world economy or buy a whole country for its precious, precious tiberiums, along with expendable dragons and realistic gadgets.
All is not lost though, as Kingsman: The Secret Service showed us that the good ol' exuberant spy movies are still around and still have the potential to entertain us... as long as they weren't intended for kids and teenagers (Looking at you, Agent Cody Banks).
Colin Firth fighting and shooting like a boss.
Our protagonist, Gary Unwin (Taron Egerton) or "Eggsy" do look like another Brit hoodlum teenager at first, but as we keep watching, we soon realizes that he's not the stereotype he's supposed to be, as he do care for his family and friends. After his shenanigans involving a Subaru and a fox, he ended up in lockup but uses a Chekhov's Item to get himself released, only for him to find a man named Harry Hart (Colin Firth) awaiting him. After a brief talk and a proper education involving manners and fistfights with local thugs, Harry gives Gary the opportunity to join the ranks of the Kingsman, an independent spy organization.
Pictured: The next potential James Bond, and definitely not James Bond Jr..
Kingsman: The Secret Service is an R-rated spy action parody, which might work to its advantages, because adults are the audiences that mostly recognizes the old spy movies/TV series references. Well that, and it allow director/co-creator Matthew Vaughn to keep it close to the violent comic book series the movie adapted. As someone who read the original comic book series, I'm pleased that Matthew Vaughn made a lot of changes with the movie adaptation. While the comic series was certainly enjoyable, the protagonist in the original material is almost a Marty Sue, knowing immediately what to do at various situation, and thus loses the tension pretty quick.
Not only the movie provided juvenile but great laughters (A lot of them are courtesy of Samuel L. Jackson's over-the-top performances.) and a lot of over-the-top cartoonish violence, the movie has a lot of great action scenes, particularly the church fight scene, which not only film in mostly long takes, less-shaky camerawork, great fight choreography with a good song to boot, it also display Colin Firth's ability to be a badass, in his 50's, in his first action role.
Samuel L. Jackson as a evil nerd? Hard to believe, but he pulled it off.
All the cast in this film provided great performances throughout the movie, particularly Colin Firth, who managed to kick-ass (Pun intended without mercy.) at every fight scenes he's in while still being a gentlemen. Taron Egerton, who is a relatively unknown actor with a few acting credits, proved to be a potential actor to look out for, like his character. Samuel L. Jackson, unlike his previous roles, play as Richmond Valentine, a very funny supervillain who doesn't have the stomach for blood and violence. Mark Strong is pretty good in his role as Merlin, the movie's equivilent of 'Q'. Mark Hamill sports a great British accent as Professor James Arnold, and comic book readers might get a chuckle out of Mark's appearance in both the comic book and movie. Jack Davenport did his best in a short appearance as a fellow Kingsman. Sofia Boutella is awesome as Gazelle, Valentine's dragon who has prosthetic legs with blades. As a snarky servant who pretty much loves her evil boss, I'd dare say that not only she's a potential waifu material, I also got dibs on her. Sophie Cookson is also good as a fellow Kingsman recruit Roxy, although I wish she had more scenes than she deserves. Last but not least, Michael Caine is not only have a strong presence as always, he also utter a word you'll never believe an old guy like him would say.
Truly a waifu material, if you don't mind her cutting-edge legs.
The only weakness this film has is that although both the training sequence and the final climax are entertaining, a few minutes trimmed from both scenes would be appreciated. There's also society class and environmental issues popped up throughout the movie, but thankfully they were sidelined in favour for the action. There are a few scenes that might be offensive for some, but not for me, fortunately.
In conclusion, Kingsman: The Secret Service have a lot of humor, great action scenes and great cast altogether with a bit of juvenile and stupidity in it, which is not a bad thing. It's not only a great starter movie for 2015, it also proved to be one of the best R-rated action comedy movie of all time, even moreso than Kick-Ass.
(I was supposed to review both Back to the Future sequels, but I haven't find the time to watch them. I'll settle it and put up a review as soon as I can.
Also, Happy Chinese New Year to you all!)