Kingsman: The Secret Service (4 stars)

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Colin Firth is the cool centre of Matthew Vaughn's riotously entertaining spy pastiche

Writer-director Matthew Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman (Stardust, Kick-Ass) reteam for their second adaptation of a Mark Millar comic with this hugely entertaining spy thriller pastiche that plays, appropriately, like James Bond meets Kick-Ass.

Newcomer Taron Egerton plays Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin, a streetwise petty criminal who's taken under the wing of debonair agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) and inducted into a super-secret organisation of spies known as Kingsman, after the Savile Row tailor storefront that serves as the entrance to their HQ. After proving his mettle against a group of upper-class fellow trainees and impressing Kingsman head Arthur (Michael Caine), Eggsy is thrust into his first mission, where he's tasked with foiling the dastardly scheme of bonkers billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson).

Egerton delivers a confident and engaging performance that bodes well for his future career, while Firth is visibly enjoying himself as the immaculately dressed operative who can take down a roomful of thugs without breaking a sweat. Similarly, Jackson is terrific value as the lisping, blood-averse megalomaniac and there's reliably great support from Mark Strong as Merlin, the Kingsman equivalent of Q.

The witty script is packed full of inventive touches and has a lot of fun playing on various spy film conventions, most notably during a brazenly meta sequence in which Hart and Valentine discuss the merits of Bond movies. Similarly, Vaughn's direction is slick and stylish throughout and he orchestrates a number of dazzlingly audacious, thrillingly violent set-pieces that are both shocking and hilarious.

Admittedly, the film does occasionally overplay its hand, such as with a puerile and unnecessary closing joke that misjudges the tone, or repeating a particular plot twist one too many times. But, for the most part, this is a riotously entertaining, superbly written thriller that will leave you shaken (with laughter) and stirred.

General release from Thu 29 Jan.

Kingsman: The Secret Service | Official Trailer

Kingsman: The Secret Service

  • 4 stars
  • 2015
  • UK / US
  • 2h 9min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
  • Cast: Colin Firth, Samuel L Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Michael Caine
  • UK release: 29 January 2015

Eggsy (Egerton) is a streetwise petty criminal, who debonair secret agent Harry (Firth) inducts into Kingsman, a super-secret spy organisation going up against bonkers, lisping billionaire Richmond Valentine (Jackson). Egerton is confident and engaging, Firth is visibly enjoying himself, and despite the odd puerile joke…