Tag Archives: action comedy

Movie Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)


Kingsman: The Secret Service is entirely bonkers. It’s also entirely enjoyable.

Based on the a UK comic book series created by Dave Gibbons (Watchmen) and Mike Millar (Spider-Man, Wanted, Kick-Ass), it tells the story of Eggsy Unwin (Taron Edgerton), a white trash Londoner who is recruited to a top secret spy agency headed by “Arthur” (Michael Caine) and “Galahad” (Colin Firth).

Like its source material, Kingsman channels the most famous spy who ever lived, James Bond, with loads of super cool gadgets and outrageous action sequences. It’s not quite Austin Powers — ie, it’s more tongue-in-cheek homage than parody — but it’s so deliciously over-the-top and unapologetically so that you can’y help but admire its audacity and sense of fun. The villain, for instance, is a lispy eco-terrorist played by a crooked-baseball-cap-wearing Samuel L Jackson, whose sidekick, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), is essentially “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorious with actual blades as prosthetic legs and Bruce Lee-like kung fu skills. Yes, it’s that kind of movie.

What really elevates Kingsman above your typical action-comedy, however, is the direction of Matthew Vaughn, best known for Stardust, Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class. There’s a genuine energy to his approach that got my blood pumping, and he adopts a slick style that can only be described as cool. He’s a real talent who knows what works and has the skills to turn vision into reality on the big screen. One thing my wife said during the movie that stood out to me is that it doesn’t feel like a typically gloomy, drab British flick. And she’s absolutely right. In addition to the Bond films, Kingsman reminds me a little of the first Men In Black movie with the cool kid learning the ropes to be a new recruit angle, the innovative gadgets and the irreverent tone, as well as Kick-Ass for its stylistic — and shockingly graphic — violence. I’m sure there will be complaints about how violent it is,

The action is spectacular, as you would expect from the guy who delivered Kick-Ass, though here Vaughn takes it to another level with some of the best choreographed fight scenes in recent memory. One ridiculously complex set piece, forever to be known as “The Church Scene”, was a symphony of absolute mayhem executed with no rapid cuts and all swirling long takes. Epic stuff.

It doesn’t hurt that the cast is superb. Colin Firth looks and acts the part as Galahad, and the presence of Caine and one of my faves, Mark Strong, lifts the overall class of any film. Even Samuel L Jackson, who has been a “keep gettin’ ’em cheques” guys for a while now, appears to be having more fun than usual. I had never heard of Taron Edgerton before, but I’m sure I’ll be seeing a lot more of him after witnessing how he held his own against all these big stars without a hiccup. He’s equally convincing whether as a scared delinquent or a suave secret agent. Looking forward to seeing him later this alongside the likes of Tom Hardy, Emily Browning, David Thewlis and Christopher Eccleston in the true crime drama Legend.

It has already received fairly good reviews, though I have a feeling Kingsman will be looked upon even more favourably years from now. It’s adventurous, edgy, sharp, funny, and filled with energy and style. It’s acutely aware of the traditions of the genre, but instead of overturning them it plays along with a cheerful wink and throws in a couple of wild surprises so audiences can’t quite put their finger on what’s going to happen next. While it spirals into ridiculousness towards the end, the film’s complete lack of sense actually helps the kind of popcorn experience Vaughn is trying to achieve. When it’s all said and done, Kingsman could very well turn out be the best action-comedy of the year.

4.25 stars out of 5

Movie Review: The Spy Next Door (2010)

Growing up, Jackie Chan was one of my movie heroes.  His innovative and comedic action flicks, especially the old Hong Kong classics when he was in his prime, are amongst my favourites of all time.  Which is why it was so upsetting for me to watch his latest, The Spy Next Door.

In this stereotypical, The Pacifier-style set up, Chan plays Bob (horrible name — I loved the old films where he was just called “Jackie”), an undercover superspy who has to look after some bratty little kids belonging to his squeeze, played by Amber Valletta.  I have no idea how this happened, but Billy Ray Cyrus and George Lopez both somehow found themselves on the cast.

Jackie Chan is old.  He has just turned 56, and it showed in The Spy Next Door.  It showed so much it was depressing.  Not only the way he looked (the hair just about killed me), but also the way he moved.  While Jackie still impresses for a man of his age, especially in a few slapstick-style fight scenes where he bounced around like a monkey, he’s a few steps slower and a lot less agile than the man I grew up idolizing.  I’m not even sure if he does his own stunts anymore.  To be honest I’m pretty sure it’s not all him doing those moves.

While it’s unfair to expect Jackie Chan to turn back time, it’s absolutely fair to slag the rest of the film, which is repetitive, annoying, and frankly, very unfunny.  Jackie still has charm, but the script is so lacking he’s essentially handcuffed.  And there’s no Chris Tucker to bail him out this time.

I know The Spy Next Door is targeted almost entirely at children, and particularly young children, but even as such, it’s terrible.

Come on Jackie.  You may be unable to move like you used to, but that shouldn’t mean you have to be stuck doing films like this.

1.5 stars out of 5!