Friday, 30 January 2015

REVIEW - KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (MATTHEW VAUGHN)


As a writer, I consider my film reviews more as reaction pieces, succinct discussions between myself and my interpretation of the films I'm writing on than actual appraisals of them. It's not to Kingsman: The Secret Service's benefit that it deviates from adhering to my journalistic mould - the film surely wouldn't be poorer were it imbued with additional allegorical content - but it proudly asserts its status as popcorn entertainment of paramount quality with such simplicity and such vigour that I can't complain. Something as straightforward as this rejects my typical style of prose, and why shouldn't it, particularly when it has pleased me so often, and in so many different ways? Kingsman is a contemporary caper, no lighter on its feet than any of Matthew Vaughn's previous films but easily his soundest, slickest big-budget filmmaking to date. Vaughn has settled into his cartoonish groove at last, with a better sense of how to employ its extravagances than before; his work here is brash, snappy and brutally effective, only boiling over into ugliness in a couple of overproduced combat scenes. His garish flair is put to better use with leaner means, and thus Kingsman's comedic passages and neater high-concept devices prove oddly winning. What could have been smug, hackneyed and highly male-centric (it still is, to an extent - in truth, the film does little to advance the gender politics of Vaughn's canon) smooths over its potentially problematic areas with boundless creative energy and sheer good will. Taron Egerton does his bit to convince audiences that he's the next big thing not only in British cinema but in American cinema too, though not all of the cast's performances are so impressive. Technical credits are mostly acceptable - they get a pass on rarely striving for credibility anyway, as evidenced in a fantastically silly scene where the world's political leaders get what's coming to them.