“Kingsman” has lots of class and flying limbs

There are two ways to do a spy thriller. The first is found in the more recent Bond films, starring Daniel Craig, that dispose of all the absurdity and contraptions that beleaguered its less-successful predecessors. The second is found in “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” which, instead, does the opposite and embraces what came before it in such a stylistic fashion.

Much of “Kingsman’s” success — and failure — is due to Matthew Vaughn’s (“X-Men: First Class”) direction and screenwriting. The director-screenwriter brings familiar tropes from his first comic adaption effort that — for the most part — work this second time around.

Adapted from the comic book created by Mark Millar, “Kingsman” revolves around a secret service, the Kingsmen, that names its agents after the Knights of the Round Table.

We follow our protagonist, Eggsy, and a few other candidates as they all audition for a spot in the group that just opened up. While all this happens, the Kingsmen conduct an investigation on the film’s antagonist, Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), who is actually one of the more amusing espionage-thriller villains to watch on-screen. This includes his lethal, peg-legged number two — Gazelle (Sofia Boutella).

And this isn’t because of Valentine’s chilling sophistication — because, really, there isn’t any — or grandiose master plan but because of the kind of entertainment Jackson and his lisp bring to the character.

Even though “Kingsman’s” action doesn’t really pick up until the end of the second act, Vaughn’s script provides enough entertainment to keep us in our seats.

Most noticeable are the constant shots “Kingsman” takes at old espionage thrillers. One example being the name of Eggsy’s assigned K-9 companion, JB (Jack Bauer). When asked about the meaning, “Kingsman” points out that all household-name spies coincidentally use the exact same initials.

There’s no question that “Kingsman” is a swift-looking piece of action. A scene that perfectly exemplifies this is set in Kentucky, where Hart investigates a lead on an obscure hate group.

What quickly follows is a beautiful-looking sequence full of engaging cinematography, swift editing and numerous limbs flying across the screen — all this happening while “Free Bird” plays in the background. While many seem to criticize the thriller for its “excessive carnage,” it seems to be part of the charm.

While it’s true that “Kingsman” has class and suits that are impossible to turn down, it does suffer from a few wardrobe malfunctions in the first act due to Vaughn’s choice in visual direction. Because of its very laid back tone, the great use of closeups and unattached limbs may provide a few awkward laughs similar to the ones heard in theaters screening “Kingsman’s” opening-weekend competitor, “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

But once Vaughn gets us up to speed, we get to enjoy an espionage thriller that doesn’t take itself seriously and isn’t as messy as the limb-riddled aftermaths of each action sequence.