Kingsman: The Secret Service Blu-ray Review

Bond – Lots of Bonds

Stupendously violent – and a bit gross – Kingsman comes signed by director Matthew Vaughn. Action scenes could be labeled courageous, maybe whimsical, but certainly subversive. Colin Firth’s hand-to-hand combat is foreplay to the vigorous gunplay to come, leading to the unexpected twists biding their time.

Sandwiched between the lighter almost-satire of British spy entertainment is a wry, effective layout of political conundrums. Kingsman leaves nothing unturned, leering at radicalized religion, sneering at the embrace of technology, and cheering at both of their comeuppances. Under that is a story of a ghetto kid who is freed from his circumstances through hard work and the capitalist who wants to kill us all – because of global warming and the Gaia theory. It’s crowded and double sided.

Firth naturally fits into this action showcase, stylishly extending the reach of modern cinematic violence with a number of unhealthy shoot-outs.

Thankfully, Kingsman is entertaining too. That’s important, obviously. Firth naturally fits into this action showcase, stylishly extending the reach of modern cinematic violence with a number of unhealthy shoot-outs. The chopped off limbs, the exploding heads, the explosions in general; Kingsman uses it all. Under Firth is Taron Egerton, charging through the screen as a disciple of this non-government controlled society of world-saving heroes, built on tradition and a fine tailor. Egerton is believable, a breakout role for a relatively unknown outside of the UK.

Sharp writer Jane Goldman pairs with Vaughn again, a mere few years after saving the X-Men and previously rewriting violence in Kick-Ass. Here, it’s a villain-led piece, producing Samuel L. Jackson as a cocky internet billionaire who exchanges words more than action. Jackson’s dialog wars and stare downs against Firth are Kingsman’s highlights, this in a movie with a five minute, almost single cut 80-person brawl.

If John Wick recently changed gunplay, Kingsman is the enhancement. Scene-to-scene, Kingsman excites. Its motion is addictive, the camerawork utterly alluring. The film is incapable of slowing itself down. It has too much to do and too much to say. In that, Kingsman is ridiculously observant, both from its social perceptiveness and of the genre it is  infatuated with, coming across as precisely vintage but more importantly, shaken and stirred. Modern Bond, Bauer, and Bourne are meager in this film’s presence. Really.

Action cinema is changing. All of it. Every branch. Bond is different. Monster movies are different. Super hero movies are infinitely different. There are segue points where cinema changes. Sometimes they’re easy to pluck. Each Bond iteration tends to do it well. The Matrix did it, certainly. Lord of the Rings made sure decapitations were PG-13.

And now there’s Matthew Vaughn who has taken action into the realm of rich commentary – Kick-Ass’ swing at media violence, X-Men for the already embedded metaphors of bigotry, and now Kingsman which makes the extremes on both sides of modern political debates appear imbecilic. The end result is intoxicating and vivid. Seeing heads explode into colorful fireworks during the finale seems all too perfect.

Movie ★★★★☆ 

Action shot @ 1:53:07

Digital time. Kingsman packs the power of multiple high-end cameras. The look remains consistent, impressive considering the multitude of effects involved when piecing together the action scenes. Computer-assisted slow motion, green screens, in-camera edits; sharpness and fidelity will not give up no matter the situation.

All of this leads to an exceptional looking film – “dapper” if the native tongue is involved – which pours on facial definition while adoring the extensive clothing line made for the feature. Fans of fine clothing will appreciate the resolution. Exteriors are just as beautiful, whether the Kingsman mansion or the shots peering down Britian’s streets.

Situated with a palette of accurate flesh tones and clean primaries, color grading feels only lightly applied. While most action films slip into boring two tone palettes, Kingsman feels alive, even natural. There is a sense of realism to an otherwise unreal film.

Assisting is the contrast/black level tandem. Both extend to their necessary sides, offering plentiful depth. Fox’s work is pristine on the disc end, avoiding encoding or compression issues. The noise-less imagery certainly doesn’t add much challenge.

Video ★★★★☆ 

Fox pumps out a DTS-HD 7.1 mix appropriate to the intensity of the film, with a wide, active soundfield. Inventive opening credits use it all: Helicopters, explosions, gunfire, and yelling. Each speaker becomes crucial. Surrounds are pleasing. A few missiles fired drop low into the LFE.

While Kingsman sedates a bit as it goes on – the finale feels a touch tighter in scope than it should – there are numerous moments where the firewpower on display feels, well, powerful. Guns and punches are emphatic, balanced well. Music is vibrant, fully wrapped throughout the available channels. Still, the track lacks a bit of the dominance factor notable in the last Die Hard, if that’s a fair comparison. Some of the Daniel Craig Bond films have more elegance and precision too. Kingsman is by no means a loser, just a touch flat in the competitive side.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

You’ll only need the single bonus offered, a 91-minute, six-part documentary cataloging the critical aspects of the production. Everyone is accounted for in interview form, and the more lavish scenes are given the time they need to be fully explained. It’s an awesome piece.

Extras ★★★☆☆ 

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.