Blame the marketing team, or the over-saturation of spy movies in general, but I had next to no interest in seeing this. My mistake. Kingsman is fantastic! Matthew Vaughn- whose resume just keeps getting better- has taken Mark Millar's comic book material and created what is essentially a mash-up of Moore-era James Bond; Austin Powers pastiche; Men In Black humour; and Kick-Ass irreverence and boundary-pushing violence. With a bit of Football Factory boozer-action thrown in.
Put that way it sounds appalling; and indeed the trailers didn't interest me (probably why I skipped it in the theatre). But thanks to Matthew Vaughn's assured direction, and a phenomenal cast, it transcends its origins and proves to be a character-driven action revelation. Colin Firth has to be seen to be believed; combining his usual gentleman performance with genuine badassery (he did 80% of his own stunts apparently)- especially during the notorious and controversial 'church' scene that is quite possibly my action set-piece of the year: more impressive than anything I saw in John Wick (sorry Keanu). And the young lad, Taron Egerton, is superb as Eggsy; holding his own effortlessly among the cast of heavyweights, and proving charismatic, likeable, and a star in the making. Then there's Michael Caine, Thamuel L Thackson as a dastardly villain (who can't stand violence), Mark Strong, Jack Davenport; and some great girl action courtesy of Sophie Cookson and Sofia Boutella; as Eggsy's button-cute classmate and bladed nemesis respectively. There's also a neat cameo in there for star wars fans.
If I'm honest, I felt it got a little too cartoony and daft towards the end (almost reaching Austin Powers spoof-levels), and the special effects weren't really very special. Some practical effects would have been welcome here. But the movie is self-aware and cheeky enough to just about get away with it. And the rest of it is so downright enjoyable, it blew away most of my criticisms.
If you've not seen it yet, feeling it may not be your cup of tea, I urge you to give it a chance especially if you are a fan of Kick Ass.