kingsman_the_secret_serviceMatthew Vaughn is an occasionally talented director. Starting his career as Guy Ritchie’s producer, thanks to the proficiency of Layer Cake back in 2004 which brought Daniel Craig to the world’s attention, he has led quite a charmed life in cinema. He has only directed five movies and Kingsman: The Secret Service, based on the comic by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, is his latest. We are introduced to young Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton), from a council estate in north London, who is taken under the wing of Harry Hart (Colin Firth). Hart decides to train Eggsy so that he can join secret organisation The Kingsmen, a modern day MI6 that operates out of a Savile Row tailor’s shop. Samuel Jackson plays Valentine, the megalomaniac bent on destroying the world with only the Kingsmen seemingly able to stop him. But all is not as it seems and Eggsy is put in a position where he doesn’t know who to trust. It’s not a terrible story and the comic’s sense of fun remains in this film adaptation but Vaughn just can’t resist his more puerile flourishes and despite the fact that it is a likeable modern spy film, with decent support from Colin Firth and Michael Caine as the head of the Kingsmen, Kingsman: The Secret Service feels like a teenager remaking one of the worst Roger Moore James Bond films. It feels like a waste of some decent acting talent. Subtlety is sacrificed on the altar of pyrotechnics and Egerton’s Eggsy is just a loutish kid with very little character development. It is a shame as Vaughn showed with X-Men First Class that he’s not just a 1990s lads mag throwback but this is slick and clumsy, and ultimately a totally empty confection. Considering that they are releasing it in a strategically quiet period at the cinema, it will probably clean up at the box office…


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Before I Go To Sleep
is a thriller set over here, based on SJ Watson’s book of the same name, directed by Rowan (Brighton Rock) Joffe. Nicole Kidman plays Christine, a woman who wakes up each day without remembering what happened to her in her recent past. Her partner, Ben, played by Colin Firth, seems to be the only constant in her life. Mark Strong is Dr Nasch, who attempts to help her unravel the mystery of her life and what really happened. Joffe handles the scenes with style and class and keeps the viewer interested throughout. Before I Go To Sleep, out now on Blu ray and DVD, is a simple thriller but lifted by the performances of Kidman and Firth, with the latter showing a more sinister steak to his acting that he does carry off well. While not earth-shattering, it will pass a winter’s evening very pleasantly.