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Kingsman: The Secret Service

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Spy Kings 2D – ★★

Matthew Vaughn returns to the big screen for the first time since 2011’s X-Men: First Class with a juvenile coming of age story as London teenager “Eggsy” (Taron Egerton) gets approached to join The Kingsmen, a British spy agency under the tutelage of Colin Firth’s Harry.

The film is adapted from the 2012 comic-book series “The Secret Service” and brings together a cast of plenty of familiar faces with the likes of Michael Caine, Mark Strong, Samuel L. Jackson and Mark Hamill all getting involved. Eggsy’s main competition for a role in the Kingsmen is Sophie Cookson as Roxy.

kingsman 2First of all, this is all great fun and does give a fair few laughs. However it would take a very forgiving adult not to say that Vaughn and Jane Goldman’s script is a little try-hard at times as it pushes the envelope for what is acceptable in a film classified by the IFCO as 16 (15 in the UK). The comic book origins are obvious with some truly farcical and daft action sequences (can you really slice a person in half and not make more a mess?). They’re fun at first but get tiring very soon, with the CGI-aided fight scenes particularly dull.

Hamill and Strong could have been given more to do, but it’s a pleasure to see Samuel L. Jackson having more fun here than he has had in years; his lispy villain is a real delight. It’s been nearly nine years since Snakes On A Plane (hope that doesn’t make you feel old), and it feels like he had just gotten stuck into a rut of putting on his eye-patch and showing up wherever he’s told as Nick Fury. Colin Firth is always a joy to watch, and no doubt he has earned the right to kick back a bit, but he’s really above all of this carry on and should know better.

Egerton is great to watch and handles the “Eastenders” scenes with his on-screen mother (Samantha Womack aka Ronnie Mitchell) amicably. Whether the script would be offensive to regular working class people in London isn’t for me to say – keep an eye on The Guardian next week. As with Kickass, Vaughn’s films seem to be designed to court controversy and the terrible depiction of women isn’t going to win him any new fans either.

There’s plenty of nods to the James Bond influence (they actually go for the cheap laugh and mention it a lot of the time too) but this is really closer to “James Bond Junior” or Robert Rodriguez’s Spy Kids franchise than any of the Bond back catalogue.

It starts out well enough but slowly wears away any goodwill as the laughs and fun moments are put to one side. A film for 13-year-olds.

Released across Ireland and the UK on January 30th 2015