Matthew Vaughn is a talented sonofabitch.
In the last 10 years, he’s written, directed, or produced 8 films.
Here’s the Rotten Tomatoes ratings of those 8 films:
Layer Cake (2005) – 81%
Stardust (2007) – 76%
Harry Brown (2010) – 64%
Kick-Ass (2010) – 76%
X-Men: First Class (2011) – 87%
The Debt (2011) – 77%
Kick-Ass 2 (2013) – 22% (there were more issues with this movie than just him producing)
X-Men: Days of Future Past – (91%)
He’s also married to Claudia Schiffer.
Basically, I’m trying to say that Matthew Vaughn only commits himself to quality projects.
And Kingsman: The Secret Service is no exception.
Simply put, this is a fantastic movie. It’s a blast to watch that’s half 1970’s Roger Moore Bond film, half Kick-Ass (in that it’s gratuitously violent and self-aware of the genre it’s ripping off).
The cast is flawless, with a trim and cut Colin Firth as the Roger Moore foil (and in another reality, should be James Bond), Michael Caine as the proverbial “M” leader of the service, Mark Strong as the “Q” techie/gear character, and Samuel L. Jackson as the tech genius/billionaire/villain. Newcomer Taron Egerton plays the spy-in-training, and portrays his character very well – in both phases. He starts off as a Chav in a dingy part of London with a chip on his shoulder. What’s a Chav? This is a Chav:
By the end of the film he’s a full blown debonair spy with hair that never gets messed up, has a silver tongue, and proficient with every type of weapon ever invented.
But this movie is about Colin Firth. He oozes the suaveness a gentlemen spy requires, yet goes full-blown badass so well that Daniel Craig’s Bond would be quivering in his knickers. Seriously – check out this 55 year old piece of man-meat:
Without giving anything away, let me just say I’ll never be able to listen to “Freebird” the same way ever again. And I’ve never seen such a beautifully choreographed, yet ridiculously violent fight scene on film. It’s also a good 3-4 minutes long of non-stop brutality. Just when you think it’s gone too far, it pushes another limit. And that’s what Matthew Vaughn does best.
Without giving away too much, here are some thoughts/observations in list form:
– Vaughn loves the unlisted cameos. In Stardust it was Robert De Niro. In X Men: First Class it was Hugh Jackman and Rebecca Romijn. And in Kingsman it’s a certain former Jedi.
– This film is all about homages, but not just to Bond films. When Eggsy (Egerton’s character) infiltrates Valentine’s (Jackson’s character) lair, there’s a first-person shooter point-of-view shot this is lifted directly from Hit-Girl in Kick-Ass (and I apologize for all of the hyphens in that sentence). Eggsy also dances along the walls of a narrow corridor, drives a weapon into a bad guy, and looks right at the camera, just like Hit-Girl. And I don’t quite know how to describe it, but there’s a James Bond style chime when Eggsy fights Gazelle. It made me swoon.
– Henry Jackman’s score is fantastic and rips off the Bond theme a couple of times.
– Vaughn’s use of music throughout is fantastic – just like in all of his films. He’s like Tarantino in that he uses songs in non-traditional ways.
– Gazelle is a badass henchman with a weird weapon a la Jaws or OddJob.
– Most villains have some kind of physical/facial deformity. Samuel L. Jackson’s villain has a lisp. It’s brilliant.
– There are some clunky exposition lines that seem really far-fetched early on, but once you accept that this universe is self-aware of James Bond movies, you’ll get over it.
TL;DR: If your female significant other wants to see Fifty Shades of Grey Valentine’s day weekend, go see this instead.