- Apr 24, 2006
- Charlotte, NC
- Real Name
- Matt Hough
A fine, frisky paean to the cool British spy movies of the 1960s tinged rather heavily with a 21st century sensibility, Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service is to secret agent films as Guardians of the Galaxy was to space operas. A wondrously tart comic undercurrent runs throughout this brisk if a tad overlong dramatic adventure film, and the tantalizing number of twists the film pulls on its audience makes the compelling and sometimes brutal journey well worth taking.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, Spanish 5.1 DD, French 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Run Time: 2 Hr. 8 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, Digital Copy, UltraVioletkeep case in a slipcover
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Release Date: 06/09/2015
The Production Rating: 4/5
Living unhappily a lower class existence in South London with his abused mother (Samantha Womack), Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) is recruited by a private secret service agent Harry Hart code-named Galahad (Colin Firth) as a possible replacement for a recently-downed agent (Jack Davenport). He’s vying for the lone vacant spot on the team against a group of well educated, upper crust candidates who look down on his crude accent and manners, but Eggsy is determined for the first time in his life to give it his all. And all of their best efforts will be needed when the winner and the team must inevitably face criminal mastermind Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) whose nefarious plan will lead to a cataclysmic loss of life worldwide if the Kingsman aren’t able to stop him.
Co-writer/director Matthew Vaughn (who shares screenwriting chores with his longtime partner Jane Goldman) has taken the gist of the graphic novels by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons and done a masterful job compartmentalizing the various subplots until they inevitably twist into a single story (and you’ll likely never see the series of surprises coming before they actually happen): Eggsy and his cohorts’ training and testing to win that single vacancy on the team, Harry Hart’s mentorship of Eggsy and his investigation into the enigmatic movements of tech genius Valentine who’s giving away free cellphone service and internet to the world, and the elaborate plan Valentine and his henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) are hatching which involves kidnapping some of the world’s more notable individuals. Though it sounds impossibly complicated on paper, the pieces fit together spectacularly smoothly once the action gets up and running (though early scenes with the death of Eggsy’s father and Eggsy’s combative relationship with his stepfather seem jerky and ill-connected in the early going). Each of those subplots contains some truly bracing action sequences which director Vaughn is known for including a flooding room, a skydiving sequence, and a Perils of Pauline-style test for the training and testing plot, Colin Firth’s astonishing display of physical dexterity on a couple of occasions including an overlong and overall violent church massacre, and, naturally, the climactic assault on Valentine’s lair where the heroes, all two of them, are woefully outnumbered by hundreds of combatants and are seemingly done for.
It’s a wicked change of pace in a way for Colin Firth here as the unflappable Harry Palmer-style spy: continuing his unruffled calm we’ve seen in countless movies but surrounding it with James Bond-ian athleticism which he carries off with aplomb. As his young protégé, Taron Egerton is a remarkable young find effortlessly but believably transitioning from an angry street kid to the stylish Savile Row-tailored gent he becomes (allusions to My Fair Lady are entirely appropriate). Mark Strong lends wonderful support as the team’s teacher and conscience, a role that grows in importance as the film unspools. Samuel L. Jackson has added a lisp to his evil character’s persona which works well enough under the circumstances, but the really dirty work comes from his outstanding henchwoman Sofia Boutella, a razor-legged force of nature who makes the femmes fatale played by Grace Jones and Framke Janssen in a couple of James Bond films appear almost sedate in comparison. Sophie Cookson is the female recruit with the most promise, and it’s to the filmmaker’s credit that they didn’t go the expected route with a romance between the two rivals. Michael Caine has an effective moment or two as the serious head of the Kingsman organization while Mark Hamill has some important scenes as Professor Arnold, one of a number of well-known personages that Jackson’s Valentine has plans for.
Video Rating: 5/5 3D Rating: NA
The film’s 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is offered in a reference quality 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Sharpness remains consistently brilliant throughout with hair textures and those handsome costumes by Arianne Phillips showing a remarkable amount of detail. Color is rich and solid with believable and appealing skin tones. Contrast has been consistently applied to get the most out of the exquisite photography while black levels are quite inky with startling shadow detail. The movie has been divided into 36 chapters.
Audio Rating: 5/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 sound mix is perfect for this kind of an action-filled extravaganza with split effects appearing throughout which maximize gunfire, fighting, explosions, and the like in every quadrant of the soundfield. Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson have provided music which gets the full surround experience, and there’s directionalized dialogue sprinkled throughout though most of the well-recorded dialogue has been placed in the center channel.
Special Features Rating: 3.5/5
Kingsman: The Secret Service Revealed (1:31:41, HD): a thorough six-part behind-the-scenes look at the production of the film detailing its conceptual origins, the casting, the director’s aims, the movie’s gadgets, weapons, and costumes, the action sequences, and its comic book origins. Among those commenting are director Matthew Vaughn, co-writer Jane Goldman, original comic writer Mark Millar, and actors Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, Jack Davenport, Mark Hamill, Taron Egerton, and Sophie Cookson.
Art Galleries: three galleries provide step-through views of behind-the-scenes filming, the sets, and the props.
Theatrical Trailer (2:22, HD)
Promo Trailers (HD): Spy, X-Men: Days of Future Past – The Rogue Edition, Unfinished Business.
Digital Copy/Ultraviolet: code sheet enclosed in the case.
Overall Rating: 4/5
With much of the same intensity and brutality that he displayed in his 2004 film Layer Cake, director-writer Matthew Vaughn has turned out a ripsnorter of an action film in Kingsman: The Secret Service. With tons of surprises along the way, an engaging cast, and a video and audio package that’s second-to-none, this one comes with a firm recommendation!
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
Support HTF when you buy this title: