Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers as it took an anarchic, often transgressive approach to the super-spy genre and made a star of Taron Egerton. Now Matthew Vaughn is back with a sequel, and it's rather clear that he has a franchise in mind. The new movie is still wildly energetic and eye-catching, but it also has a more predictable plot that takes fewer risks.
We catch up with Eggsy (Egerton) as he's a respectable member of the Kingsman juggling his private life with his serious girlfriend Princess Tilde (Hanna Alstrom). But megalomaniacal drug lord Poppy (Julianne Moore) and her part-cyborg henchman Charlie (Edward Holcroft) launch a vicious attack on Kingsman bases, leaving Eggsy and his colleague Merlin (Mark Strong) on their own. For help, they turn to their American counterpart Statesman, run by Champ (Jeff Bridges). His agents Tequila, Whiskey and Ginger (Channing Tatum, Pablo Pascal and Halle Berry) offer help getting Kingsman back on its feet. And they also reveal that they've rescued fallen agent Harry (Colin Firth), who is recovering from a brain injury. Meanwhile, Poppy launches a global assault.
To tell this rather simple story, Vaughn indulges in all kinds of flashy visual trickery. The action sequences are choreographed like wacky cartoons, as the camera swoops through the complicated mayhem with acrobatic skill. And the characters are vividly played by the top-notch cast with maximum personality flourishes. Egerton is terrific at the centre, as adept at physicality and comedy as he is at finding a touch of emotion here and there. His scenes with Firth are especially strong. And Moore makes the most of her goofy kingpin, who is trying to recreate 1950s Americana in the jungle, plus added madcap 1970s flair with a riotous Elton John, who gets stuck right into the mayhem.
Continue reading: Kingsman: The Golden Circle Review
For those who knew him, Gary Unwin (better known as Eggsy to his friends), was never a likely candidate for a spy. After stealing a car and being a bit of a hooligan (who's always up for a laugh) eventually Eggsy landed himself in trouble with the police. What the outside world didn't know about Eggsy was his father was an incredibly brave probationary secret agent and Eggsy displays many of his father's strengths. Kingsman Harry Hart sees Eggsy's potential and trains him up as a Kingsman spy. Only Eggsy and one other trainee, Roxy, succeed in proving that they have what it takes to become a Kingsman. Together, with the help of Harry and their quartermaster, Merlin, they defeat psychopathic billionaire Richmond Valentine. Their mission is a success but in the process Harry is shot in the head.
Though Eggsy loses his mentor, life continues for the young spy and he becomes the Kingsman that Hart always knew him to be. As worldwide threats become known, the Kingsman are once again placed as the brink of extermination. Their headquarters and training grounds are blown up and Eggsy and Merlin must once again find a way to save the world.
Their hunt takes them to America and it's revealed that The Kingsman aren't the only highly secret organisation looking to protect the world; the two Brit's are introduced to Champagne, Jack Daniels and Tequila - three agents working for the Statesman, the US equivalent to Kingsman. With the help of their new American counterparts, Eggsy, Merlin and some other familiar faces might just stand a chance of saving the world all over again.
Until the special effects take over in the final act, this is an unusually gritty, grounded superhero thriller, with characters who are so believable that the wacky science almost seems to make sense. This is Marvel's very first franchise, and the filmmakers are unable to resist the pressure to indulge in an overblown finale, and the digital mayhem they give into is oddly unexciting. So as an origin story, this film is more involving than most, but the superhero action itself feels rather limp.
It opens as an exploration of the school friendship between the misunderstood genius Reed (Miles Teller) and junkyard bully Ben (Jamie Bell), whose teleportation science experiment gets them in trouble. But Dr Storm (Reg R. Cathey) sees that their work solves a problem he has encountered in his own experiments, so he brings Reed to New York to join his well-funded, high-tech team. Working with Victor (Toby Kebbell) and Storm's children Sue and Johnny (Kate Mara and Michael B. Jordan), Reed builds a full-size teleporter that succeeds in crossing over to another dimension. And Ben joins the crew for an illicit first voyage that goes spectacularly wrong, leaving Victor on the other side, while Reed, Ben, Sue and Johnny emerge with superpowers caused by altered DNA. The big boss (Tim Blake Nelson) immediately starts training them for military action, but Reed remains determined to make things right.
A strong cast helps all of this play out with remarkable introspection, letting each character develop an organic back-story that brings them together as an uneasy team. The inter-relationships are complex and engaging, veering from rivalry to camaraderie. Teller anchors the film with a layered performance as a smart, troubled guy who struggles to maintain friendships as he focusses on his work. Mara and Johnson add some feisty attitude, but it's Bell and Kebbell who provide the spark of personality that makes this crew so engaging. Then both of them become animated characters (Bell as The Thing and Kebbell as Dr Doom) without even a hint of the actors visible underneath. And the movie never quite recovers its momentum.
Continue reading: Fantastic Four Review
He may be best known as 007, but Daniel Craig has been making movies for three decades. Here are five of our favourites.
As the latest 007 outing, Spectre, draws ever closer, we're taking a look back at five films from Daniel Craig's varied big-screen career - none of which involve the iconic superspy in a suit.
1. Layer Cake (2004)
Flash has provided inspiration for a huge number of sci-fi directors, most notably Star Wars creator George Lucas. The story follows a famous space explorer, his love interest Dale Arden and the scientist Hans Zarkov as they battle the villainous Ming the Merciless on the planet Mongo.
Continue reading: Matthew Vaughn In Talks To Direct 'Flash Gordon' For 20th Century Fox
Moving away from the 'X-Men' franchise in favour of a Bond-franchise celebration paid off for director Matthew Vaughn - in part, due to Colin Firth's suit.
People were shocked when Matthew Vaughn abandoned work on X-Men: Days of Future Past to work on an adaptation of an unknown comic book called 'Kingsman: The Secret Service'. But with the film now in cinemas, it seems like a rather obvious choice for him, as it allows him to do the same thing for the 'James Bond' genre that he previously did for superheroes with 'Kick-Ass'. Namely, he plays with the formula, both grounding and exaggerating the premise while refusing to water down the material for pre-teens, as most studio movies do.
Vaughn loved making 'X-Men: First Class', but says getting away from the studio system was a big motivation, since no one would be telling him what to do. "It was just me and my mates going off and making a film," he says. "And 'Kingsman' is the kind of film I'd really like to watch."
Continue reading: Colin Firth's 'Kingsman' Is A Nod To James Bond
By Rich Cline
With virtually the same tone as they used in their superhero spoof Kick-Ass, filmmakers Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman take another riotously adult approach to pastiche, this time tackling the James Bond genre. Essentially they have made a 007 movie that refuses to tone itself down for the PG-13 audience, indulging in the profanity and excessive violence other films shy away from. So it doesn't really matter if the plot itself isn't quite as rebellious as it pretends to be.
Kingsman is a top-secret spy agency located in a Saville Row tailor, beholden to no corporation or government. Led by Arthur and Merlin (Michael Caine and Mark Strong), these gentlemanly super-agents use the names of the knights of the Round Table. And when one of them dies, they know it's time to get with the times and recruit someone young and hip. So they set up a rigorous school for trainees, with one lucky graduate set to earn a spot at the table. Harry, aka Galahad (Colin Firth), chooses rough East End teen Eggsy (Taron Egerton) as his candidate. The son of a former agent, Eggsy shows considerable promise even if he lacks the expected refinement. Then just before the final selection is made, they discover that mobile phone billionaire Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) is up to something nefarious. So Eggsy and fellow rookie Roxy (Sophie Cookson) kick into action to figure out what he's up to, and stop him.
Despite constant reminders that "this isn't that kind of movie", it clearly is. Every Bond element is here, including the crazed villain with an elaborate lair and a technically augmented sidekick (Sofia Boutella's vicious blade-footed henchwoman Gazelle). The only difference is that where Bond hints cheekily at violence and sex, Vaughn and Goldman go for it. This film is packed with outrageous, over-the-top carnage and intensely rude dialogue, delivered with relish by the expert cast. Firth, Caine and Strong are terrific at combining tweedy propriety with public schoolboy naughtiness, while Jackson merrily plays around with Valentine's god-complex.
Continue reading: Kingsman: The Secret Service Review
A young teen with an incredible IQ and first-rate academic performance takes the wrong path in life by getting involved in drugs and petty crime. He is caught by police during one dramatic car chase but is released unexpectedly by Secret Service agent Uncle Jack. Jack sees a lot of potential in the kid and introduces him to the world of International Intelligence. Initially impressed by the gadgetry and glamour of the Service, Uncle Jack introduces him to a new division: the Kingsman. There’s a job going for the brightest young adults in the country and Jack wants his new recruit to prove himself against the upper class kids who rival him. It soon becomes clear, though, that the world of Intelligence is not just a fun game when the training starts getting intensely scary.
Continue: Kingsman: The Secret Service Trailer