Sunday 22 March 2015

Kingsman by Goldman, Vaughn and Millar

Mark Millar is a prolific and successful writer of comics, an impressive number of which have been adapted into films. 

His work (with John Romita) was the basis for Kick Ass, which was a lot of fun, while his work with J.G. Jones was adapted as Wanted, which proved to be a thundering dud. Now his comic The Secret Service, illustrated by the great Dave Gibbon, hits the screen as Kingsman, which is deliriously good.

I must warn you, though, that it is an incredibly violent film: Colin Firth slaughters an entire church full of loathsome fundamentalists to the strains of 'Free Bird'. 

It is also, very, very funny. I was hooked on it from the (violent) opening sequence. Director Matthew Vaughn and his co-writer Jane Goldman have actually managed to pull off a 21st Century spy thriller in the vein of a classic James Bond fantasy movie. (They were the team behind Kick Ass, too.)

The film is also rooted in reality, thanks to the neat narrative conceit of enlisting a young working class hoodlum into the elite cadre of posh spies. This is Eggsy, played by Welsh actor Taron Egerton. Eggsy is an engaging character. Pursued by the cops with his friends while joyriding in a stolen car, he crashes the vehicle and gets caught rather than running over a fox and getting away clean. His friend in the back seat reprimands him. "It was vermin, bruv. You should have driven it over." Eggsy responds with wistful bitterness: "Should have done a lot of things."

It's a great line, and a great movie, charting Eggsy's training as a 'Kingsman' secret agent. There is a top drawer cast, with Colin Firth as Eggsy's mentor and the 007 surrogate, Mark Strong as a 'Q' figure and Michael Caine as a malign 'M'.

Most importantly there is Samuel L. Jackson lisping his way brilliantly through the role of Valentine, as splendid an evil villain as ever coughed up by the Bond franchise, superbly supported with the most deadly of hench-women in the shape of the blade-limbed Gazelle, played by Sofia Boutella.

My only beef is that Eggsy's fellow trainee Roxy (Sophie Cookson) is left with too little to do in the explosive grand finale. 

If you are up for the extravagant fantasy violence, Kingsman is a sheer delight. Lynyrd Skynyrd's greatest hit will never sound the same again, though.

(Image credits: All the posters are from the redoubtable, and fast downloading, Imp Awards.)

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