(Matthew Vaughn, 2015)
Kingsman makes sure that you know it has the James Bond films in mind from early on, and there are several explicit references. But this film, based on a comic book, accordingly takes a much more comic book angle on the material, making everything even bigger and broader and sillier than most Bond films usually go. It even has a dig at modern 007 - too serious, apparently - and so here that serious nature is replaced by ludicrous action scenes and some lame gags. It actually bears more resemblance to the recent G.I. Joe films than any Bond movies.
The story follows young petty criminal Eggsy (Taron Egerton) after he is saved from prison by Galahad (Firth), an agent of the titular organisation. Firth sponsors him to enter the recruitment process for a new Kingsman, run by Merlin (Mark Strong) while he investigates the scheme cooked up by Internet Billionaire Valentine (Samuel L Jackson). That scheme involves culling the majority of earth's population, and gives rise to one impressive action sequence, where Firth's dapper, old-school agent kills about two dozen people in a berserker fury. Like all of the action scenes here, that one is almost ruined by an over-reliance on CGI, and throughout the film flirts with being a tasteless and embarrassing mess. It has a particular weakness for the obvious; from the choice of music to the product placement to the action beats to the gags, there is nothing surprising or witty here, just a whole lot of boxes being ticked. Some of those boxes work and are undeniably satisfying to watch; others are cringe-inducing and eye-rollingly dumb.
There is also a streak of class warfare running through the plot, with prole Eggsy taking on the Oxbridge Elite and showing them that a pleb can have what it takes, but even that is messy, what with the way the film fetishises upper-class British culture.
The performances barely matter, but Jackson and Firth have fun, while Egerton does what he needs to do. It is massively overlong, but scattered sequences are enjoyable and funny.