The upcoming Kingsman: The Secret Service is the new spy action/thriller from Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman, based on the comic book by Kick-Ass co-creator, Mark Millar, and illustrated by Dave Gibbons. Kingsman stars relative newcomer Taron Egerton as Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin, a street punk who is recruited for an elite secret spy organization by one super spy, Harry Hart (Colin Firth).
Costarring Samuel L. Jackson as its villain, Kingsman saw its release date shuffled around a few times, before it finally landed on the Valentine's holiday frame in 2015; there, it will serve as counter-programming to the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. However, judging by the first wave of reviews, 20th Century Fox has a promising title on its hands - one that ought to benefit from having less direct competition to face at the box office.
You can read SPOILER-FREE excerpts from the first Kingsman reviews below (click any of the corresponding links for the full written reviews).
TRAILER & REVIEWS
Variety - For those who think James Bond has gotten a little too serious in his old age, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” brings the irreverence back to the British spy genre, offering a younger, streetwise variation on the 007 formula while gleefully pushing audiences’ favorite elements — sartorial taste, killer toys and cracked-out supervillains — to hyperbolic extremes.
THR - As he did in X-Men: First Class, [with 'Kingsman'] director Matthew Vaughn strikes an energetic balance between cartoonish action and character-driven drama, though the tinge here is darker... The mix grows less seamless and the story loses oomph as it barrels toward its doomsday countdown, but the cast's dash and humor never flag.
The Wrap - The fifth and, yes, best film from [director Matthew Vaughn], “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is a startlingly enjoyable and well-made action film leavened by humor and slicked along by style, made by, for, and about people who’ve seen far too many Bond films... Credit for that goes to Vaughn’s adaptation of the script alongside producer Jane Goldman, which finds cheer and cleverness in Millar’s mixture of retro-style spy action with a snobs-versus-slobs twist.
The Guardian - The spirit of 007 is all over this movie, but Vaughn’s script (written with frequent collaborator Jane Goldman) has a licence to poke fun. [The] overall vibe is sheer glee, as if no one involved in the production can believe they’re getting away with making such a bats**t Bond... Millar’s voice seems to be egging on Vaughn, whose last film, X-Men: First Class, was quite enjoyable but not nearly hardcore enough for denizens of the darker comic-book playgrounds [unlike 'Kingsman'].
Empire - It’s hard to argue with a billion bucks at the box office, of course, but at the same time it’s hard not to feel that the Bournification of the James Bond franchise may have robbed 007 of his sense of fun... Which is where Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service comes in. It’s got ingenious gadgets, suave heroes with the ability to identify a rare brand of Scotch from smell alone, megalomaniacal villains and deadly henchwomen with blades where their legs used to be. It’s filthy, funny and very violent - and frankly it’s the most fun 007 has been in years.
In short? Kingman's another successfully cheeky and stylized comic book-based helping of action genre entertainment from Vaughn, Goldman, and Millar. Moreover, the film knowingly (and ably) riffs on the conventions of the James Bond franchise, while also establishing a new spy/thriller universe of its own to continue playing in down the line (should the box office warrant it).
One recurring complaint amongst Kingsman reviews published so far is that the film sometimes aims to pander too much to the teenage fanboy demographic, with its lowbrow and raunchy comedy. (As The Wrap's review puts it, "Is it too much to ask for an action film that doesn’t find coarse comedy about women and sex as obligatory as squibs, explosions, and product placement?") The material in the Kingsman red band trailer, as well as the film's curiously sexual posters, suggested as much would be the case, but so far critics aren't saying that's a deal breaker.
By and large, it sounds as though Kingsman walks the fine line between violent comic book fantasy and satire (nearly) as well as Vaughn and Goldman's previous Mark Millar comic adaptation, Kick-Ass. Vaughn's new film might have similar niche appeal as Kick-Ass at the box office, but right now it certainly seems a whole lot more promising than your average early February release.
Kingsman: The Secret Service opens in U.S. theaters on February 13th, 2015.