Over the last decade producer turned director Matthew Vaughn has made a group of films that test the boundaries of the genres he's chosen to tackle. Kingsman: The Secret Service is Vaughn's foray back into the comic book world mixed in with an aura of old school spy thrillers. Click through for my take on Vaughn's directing chops as well as the review for this violent valentine's day release.
Matthew Vaughn departed the world of producing and directed his first film in 2004. Layer Cake is a main catalyst for Daniel Craig becoming James Bond (and Ben Whishaw becoming Q). It's one of the best gangster films of the 2000s and maybe ever. Vaughn took his training producing Guy Ritchie's films to put out a really amazing directorial debut. It was also Vaughn's first foray into taking another's work, JJ Connolly's novel, to the next level. He'd establish his ability to mix in quality acting, over-the-top violent action sequences and a wonderful soundtrack to create a new vibrant form to an old genre. The gangster world needed a swift and cool film to bring back the genre.
Vaughn's tenacity to tackle different genres was totally showcased with his films Stardust (2007) and Kick-Ass (2010). Two films that go beyond the regular elements of their respective genre's to create a more visceral experience. The films also allowed Vaughn to continue to work with A-list stars like Robert DeNiro and upcoming ones like Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz. The films weren't shy about using flashy action and fantasy sequences to amp up the movies' appeal. Neither lived up to the screwed presence of Layer Cake, but they did showcase a director who now had name recognition.
Vaughn then conquered the comic book world by bringing back to life the beloved X-Men franchise. He utilized a slew of talented young actors, over-the-top violent action sequences and a wonderful soundtrack to capture the fun of the X-Men series. Overall Matthew Vaughn had taken his wild ass British ways to the main stream world. This lead to the massive reload of the X-Men world and the bringing back of Bryan Singer to bridge the old and new arcs. Vaughn would keep a close eye on the X-Men: Days of Future Past as he continued to write and produce at a good pace.
Vaughn would then step back into the comfort of his British world to bring us this most recent directorial showcase. Along the way he'd bring in his old writing partner Jane Goldman (working off the comic series created by Mark Miller/Dave Gibbons team), get quality DP George Richmond behind the camera, bring in quality actors like Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, and the underrated Mark Strong, and he'd also introduce us to Taron Egerton
But Kingsman's quality is in the full tilt of humor. Even back to Guy Ritchie's films (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch) the wild world of the characters was always broken up with the witty sense of humor. Kingsman is the full extension of Vaughn's cheeky sense of humor. What I'm getting at is Vaughn has always touched on the classics that inspire him but in subtle ways. Kingsman is a bit different, he's openly tackling his perception of the films he loved as a kid. This particular scene I think is the director speaking to the audience about just what movies Matthew Vaughn grew up loving.
It's no wonder that the film's dedication is a rather sweet one. He thanks his mother. Vaughn's created the most over-the-top and violent homage to the films' his mother allowed him to see as a young boy. I mean he tackles all the elements of spy and comic book world in the film, but takes it to another level. Sum it all up in one phrase, Manners Maketh Man.
This valentine's day take the chance to witness a director fully realizing his skill set. Kingsman: The Secret Service is a wonderfully acted, non-stop paced, and is totally enjoyable all the way through. You'll laugh, you'll cringe and you'll even gasp but in the end you'll leave wanting MORE. Grabbed your loved one and listen to Mr. Samuel L. Jackson!