Kingsman: The Secret Service, in the words of director Matthew Vaughn, is a kind of post-modern love letter to spy movies, and that’s about as accurate a description of the effort as you’re going to get. Every move is clearly aimed at not only the vision and style of early Bond and his ilk, but pulls in the kind of post-modern storytelling that made Kick-Ass the curious wunderfilm it is.
Taron Egerton plays Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, a clever enough lad who is a victim of his circumstances. Harry Hart (Colin Firth), aka Galahad, bails Eggsy out of jail, and makes him a very unique offer. A member of a sort of double-super-secret spy organization, Hart sees something in Eggsy, and thinks he could be just the candidate to join the ranks of the spy elite.
We then get to take a ride through spy school, as several candidates jockey for the only open position. Meanwhile, Hart is investigating the death that opened up the position for Eggsy to fill. We know that Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), an uber-rich tech genius is behind things, and part of the update of the genre revolves around our getting a great deal of his story.
The film may play out largely in familiar fashion, but it moves through the normal steps in decidedly abnormal ways. That’s probably to be expected from something from Vaughn and Mark Millar, and most things that are based on graphic novels, but this one also tries to balance the action and genre norms with new ideas, and significantly surprising plot jumps. You may know where things are going, but you won’t see it all coming. It just isn’t how things are done.
Best of all, the film knows how to combine the elements that are just pure fun with those that develop the characters in ways that don’t feel like the equivalent of sitting around a table for some compulsory profile regurgitation. Even when that’s exactly what’s happening. That’s impressive.
The only problem with the film is that it overplays its own devices, which detracts from the superior features it worked so hard to sell. Firth is brilliant, and he not only manages a well-worn Bond-esque spy, but he gives us a “passing the torch” effort that could work in any backdrop. Egerton is mostly charming, and sneaks in bites of character that move us into the sub-text with the air of someone who has a lot more experience. But, all of this is left without quite as much meaning when many of the action scenes, and the villain, go behind graphic novel, and into the realm of cartoon.
It’s still a solid effort, and one that you can’t help but recommend, but it could have been even better, and it seems without that much effort.
The HD release (at least on iTunes) comes with the same bonuses as the Blu-Ray, and they are a good mix. A lot of people might hope for a commentary on a feature like this, especially with Vaughn and Millar involved, but you end up almost getting one anyway.
A handful of featurettes –
- Panel to Screen (10 minutes)
- Heroes and Rogues (23 minutes)
- Style All His Own (11 minutes)
- Tools of the Trade (15 minutes)
- Breathtakingly Brutal (17 minutes)
- Culture Clash (15 minutes)
give you a better-than-average look behind-the-scenes, with each featurette covering the subject obvious from the title. The cast, director, and writers jump in regularly to offer their take on things, and they are impressively put together.
They’re also longer than most similar efforts you see, mostly because someone is doing a lot of talking, and it makes it far more interesting. Tools of the Trade, for example, could easily be a three-minute rundown of the gadgets, and would be on most releases, but here we get some insight into why these particular gadgets show up, and the thought process behind, for example, using an umbrella.
The Panel to Screen featurette is the shortest, but is probably the most interesting, and certainly the one to watch first. Vaughn and Millar discuss the concept of the film, and the difficulties they faced in trying to get this to screen. Even when the trouble was just figuring out exactly how they wanted it to exist.
You also get an interesting selection of images in three different galleries – Behind-The-Scenes, Sets and Props
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment invites you to join KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE when it hits Digital HD™ May 15 and Blu-ray™ and DVD June 9. Matthew Vaughn, director of Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class brings his own unique style to the genre while brilliant performances from Colin Firth, Samuel Jackson, Michael Caine and newcomer Taron Egerton have made spies more bad ass and awesome than ever.
A super-secret organization recruits an unrefined but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program just as a dire global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius. A phenomenal cast, including ACADEMY AWARD® Winners Colin Firth and Michael Caine* and OSCAR® Nominee Samuel L. Jackson**, leads this action-packed spy-thriller directed by Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class).
The KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE Blu-ray™ has a full arsenal of bloody good added materials that bring the world of the Kingsman to life. Not only can you see a gorgeous gallery of behind the scenes images from the film’s production, but the Kingsman: The Secret Service Revealed documentary also gives you an exclusive 90-Minute look into the film’s iconic style, fights, gadgets and more.