It’s about as subtle as a dump truck, but you don’t always need subtlety to have a lot of fun. Kingsman: The Secret Service is an energetic, over-the-top nod to the classic spy films of the 60s and 70s. Director Matthew Vaughn crafts some truly exciting action sequences and establishes a unique world for the story to take place in. Based on the comic book The Secret Service, the story isn’t amazing, but it’s able to successfully emanate the ridiculous and overly complicated plots that this genre is known for. It may be a little too smug and self-aware, but you can’t deny that it’s an all-around good time.

A young street-punk from an abusive household named Eggsy (Taron Egerton) one day runs into Harry (Colin Firth), an old friend of his father. Harry says that he works as a tailor, but his actual profession is a member of the Kingsman secret service. After one of their members is killed in the line of duty, Harry recruits Eggsy to audition for the position. Eggsy accepts and begins a rigorous and dangerous recruitment process. There he meets another Kingsman named Merlin (Mark Strong) and befriends a young woman named Roxy (Sophie Cookson). All the while, Harry begins investigating a ridiculous internet billionaire (Samuel L. Jackson), who may hatch an outrageous plan to take over the world.

Having directed both 2010’s Kick-Ass and 2011’s X-Men: First Class, Vaughn is no stranger to over-the-top action sequences. The action clearly has a heavy focus in this film and Vaughn’s staging of the scenes is mostly interesting and effective. A sequence inside a church has generated the most buzz among moviegoers and it’s easy to see why: it’s cleverly shot and allows one of the main characters in the film to go on an all-out rampage. The only downside to this scene is that it doesn’t completely make sense in the moment and it requires the characters to backtrack and explain what just happened. For me, the highlight of the film is a skydiving sequence that occurs during Eggsy’s training. When the candidates are in freefall and discover that one of them doesn’t have a parachute, they must work together and use their wits to prevent one of them from going splat on the ground. It’s very suspenseful to watch each member pull their parachute, knowing that one of their packs will come up empty. I’m normally not a huge fan of films that have their characters training for a large chunk of the film, but the training here is actually interesting and enjoyable.

Its humor doesn’t always stick as much as it may want to and the screenplay features one truly cringe-worthy line, but the film moves at such a quick pace that problems like these really don’t bog it down. Colin Firth seems to be having a lot of fun in his role and Taron Egerton does a surprisingly great job, holding his own in a cast full of A-list actors. His chemistry with Sophie Cookson is one of the film’s highlights and thankfully it doesn’t evolve into a romantic relationship. Kingsman: The Secret Service may be mostly forgotten about by the time we reach the end of 2015, but for an action film released in the early months of the year, it provides some great entertainment.

Kingsman: The Secret Service receives 3/4

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