Review by C.J. Bunce
Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the sequel to the 2014 spy movie Kingsman: The Secret Service, is coming to the theaters in a few weeks. If you didn’t see the original, it was probably because of its rather uninspired title. But don’t wait any longer. Kingsman: The Secret Service is a blast. And it’s streaming right now. Kingsman: The Secret Service stars Colin Firth as a secret agent in a new brand of 007 series, as he attempts to recruit the next member of the Kingsman organization, the son of a former agent, played by Taron Egerton. It’s stylish. It’s wall-to-wall action. It’s part dark comedy. And its over-the-top violence is operatic and epic. The last time we had this much fun was watching Roddy Piper and Keith David in They Live.
For those hoping Firth would ever be tapped as Bond, this is every bit that, only Firth’s master spy has moves like no Bond ever had. One scene provides so much hand-to-hand combat you’d think you were watching Kill Bill, and the Quentin Tarantino influence doesn’t stop there. You’d almost think the retired director was the ghost director behind the mayhem in the film’s climactic battle. It’s just as well, as actual director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2, X-Men: First Class, Layer Cake) proves again he knows the action genre.
Every great British spy story needs a Bond girl, and Sofia Boutella’s Gazelle is up there with the best. Her missing lower legs (no, we never learn why) were replaced with steel blades, blades that can kill–and very much do. Think of Bond girls played by Famke Janssen and Grace Jones, and Boutella fits right in. Every bit the combat equal to Firth and Egerton’s spies, Gazelle is practically a character missing from Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies.
This is a spy movie made by a team that is passionate about the British spy genre. The style owes much to series like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Avengers of the 1960s. If it sounds more like a superhero movie, that could be because the source material is the 2012 The Secret Service: Kingsman comic book series from award-winning creators Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Old Man Logan) and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen). The story will also remind you of classic animation like G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, Danger Mouse, and The Incredibles, with its over-the-top villain’s zany plot to destroy the world. But the hints here are more nods and homages, than the movie being derivative. You’ll enjoy pointing out all the familiar elements, including a hint of M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable.
And that Unbreakable nod could be derived from the casting of the film’s villain, Samuel L. Jackson, as a very calculating villain of the Bondian variety. Other acting greats co-starring here include Michael Caine as the leader of the spy circle and Mark Strong as the trainer of a new batch of recruits. Even Mark Hamill makes an appearance. Sophie Cookson (The Huntsman: Winter’s War) plays one of the competing contenders for the Kingsman program.