Stylized homage to the spy films of a bygone era? Merciless James Bond spoof? In truth, Kingsman: The Secret Service falls somewhere in between.

Starring Colin Firth in his least Colin Firth-y role to date, Kingsman introduces us to a world of exploding heads, rage inducing drugs, spy schools, and promiscuous princesses – all presented in an extravagantly over the top fashion.

The plot follows young chav Eggsy (Taron Egerton), as he’s recruited to try out for an opening in the suave, sophisticated, suit clad band of secret agents known as the Kingsmen. Harry Hart (codenamed Galahad and played by the aforementioned Firth) acts as his mentor, while also trying to stave off an imminent threat to the planet posed by mega villain Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson).

Valentine, flanked by sexy but lethal henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), is one of the strongest aspects of the film. Jackson’s performance strikes a balance between sinister and humorous, making Richmond Valentine one of the best villains of the last year, and one of the most astute parodies since Dr Evil.

Director Matthew Vaughn brings similar flair and style to Kingsman as he did to Kickass, and the movie contains enough brawling, blood, and badassery to satisfy any fighting fiend, though some viewers may be put off by some of the more absurd elements of the action.

The film’s major problem stems from its assumption the audience is familiar with the spy films it draws so heavily on, but, provided you’re in on the joke, Kingsman: The Secret Service provides a good bit of fun.

Originally published in Curieux Issue 2, 2015.