The next report card is for the latest film adaptation of the comic books from the mind of Mark Millar, entitled Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Kingsman: The Secret Service—directed by Matthew Vaughn; written by Jane Goldman (screenplay), Matthew Vaughn (screenplay), Mark Millar (comic book), Dave Gibbons (comic book); starring Taron Egerton (Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin), Colin Firth (Harry Hart / Galahad), Mark Strong (Merlin), Jonno Davies (Lee), Jack Davenport (Lancelot), Mark Hamill (Professor Arnold), Michael Caine (Arthur) and Samuel L. Jackson (Valentine).
Our protagonist, Eggsy, is a fully fleshed out character in all of the ways that one could hope for. His journey makes sense and the conclusion is earned. Thankfully, he's also joined by several other colorful characters, which would seemingly be difficult, considering how so many of them are supposed to be stiff, emotionless drones. Colin Firth's Galahad is charming, Mark Strong proves that he doesn't always have to be the villain to be awesome, and Samuel L. Jackson is super fun to watch as the antagonist.
The only reason this film doesn't get an A+ or A– is because there are a good number of characters who really don't stand out from one another. Eggsy's friends are just his friends and nothing more, which also goes for the friends of his stepfather. Still, it isn't necessary for these characters to have any more traits than that, so it's forgivable.
Is this a film with performances about which people will be talking for a lifetime? Of course not. However, even though it was a leap to think of Colin Firth as a badass or to trust that they would not overplay the trope of Sophie Cookson as "the badass chick who can fight just as well as the men," these and the other characters were pulled off successfully. My point is, given the material and the type of movie they were going for, they achieved their goal.
VISUALS (FX, MAKEUP, COSTUMES, SETS): B–
There are only two slight hiccups when it comes to visuals. First, the fight scenes can sometimes feel a little as though they sped them up, which would be disappointing if that were the case. Second, the opening title sequence was a tad cheesy, although that may have been intentional to establish the tone of the film, so I'm willing to give that a pass.
Makeup was on point, as were the costumes. This film makes me want to go out and buy a new suit and an umbrella. For the most part, the sets are great, although the prison cells did come off somewhat cheap. Then again, there are several nods to old James Bond films throughout the movie, so this could easily have been a clever way to save on the budget and reference how Dr. No and the older Sean Connery films were guilty of these cheap sets as well.
MUSIC & SOUND: A–
Once again, Henry Jackman proves that he knows how to balance an original score that works with serious action but also peppers in songs that can make the soundtrack lighter and make sure the fun doesn't get lost in the tension. If you're fond of the Kick-Ass music, you'll feel the same about this. The final fight scene was particularly well done, and the music is a huge reason why. Of course, the credit is shared with Matthew Margeson for his contributions to this part of the film.
TONE (ACTION, ROMANCE, COMEDY): A–
If you hear that this is a film from the makers of Kick-Ass, you should know what you're getting into, as it is essentially the same tone balance.
ACTION: The fight scenes were awesome, gritty, and had the right mix of realism and fantasy. After all, this is a comic book movie and not a documentary.
COMEDY: Originally, I disliked Samuel L. Jackson's character having a lisp, as it felt like a forced joke. While I still think that is pretty much the only joke that doesn't fully land, I was pleased to see them address it full-on with a joke about the Brits in the film speaking so funny instead. Otherwise, every other joke in the movie had me smiling, chuckling, or laughing out loud.
ROMANCE: Admittedly, I'm disappointed that there wasn't more of a romance between Roxy and Eggsy. It was hinted at but never really established, not even ending with some triumphant kiss or anything of the sort. Then again, it did play up a different aspect of the spy genre, with the Princess Tilde character fulfilling a much more over-the-top version of what the Bond girls frequently boiled down to, so that scores points in the romance category alone.
FINAL GRADE: B+
If you're asking me how much I enjoyed this movie, it's an A+. I LOVED it. However, this report card system is meant to judge things based on all merits, with a perfect A+ score going to something that should win Best Picture at the Academy Awards and also be entertaining to watch. This never will do the former, but it is certainly the latter. So far this year, I've watched nearly every movie nominated for the top prize at the Oscars, yet this is easily, hands down, without a doubt my favorite movie I've seen since January 1st. To be honest, this is my favorite movie I've seen in months, and I watch a lot of movies from a variety of different genres. I highly recommend this movie to anybody who is fond of this type of film. For those who would be turned off from the rated-R elements, you might as well skip it, but if that's not a deal breaker, don't skip out on this.