Briefly, it is a homage to spy movies, it’s a fun action movie and probably most comparable to Kick-Ass. It’s also almost really great! But I think it is ultimately (and disappointingly) a throw away, homage action movie which is a little too derivative of Vaughn previous work.
[spoiler] It establishes very early on that there’s going to be an “out with the old and in with the new” dynamic. This is especially in regards to the old James bond movies it draws HEAVILY from and blatantly references (mainly just for self-aware comedy I guess). I hoped that this meant appealing to the same old tropes and yet subverting them. As a whole I felt that movie tried impress on the audience that these tropes such as, the lavish suits and ornate accessorizing + gadgets, which play into the male power fantasy portrayed in Bond movies can be enjoyed by anyone and any gender.
But it kind of drops the ball, for example, the female character never gets those things and unfortunately is sidelined at the end so we can watch her male counterpart have all the fun taking on the femme fatale, killing the villain and doing the rest. In the end do we get a new paradigm shift? I don’t think so, I think we get the spy that old Harry Brown wanted, a dude in a suit acting all gentlemanly and kicking ass (and also smashing pint glasses in dudes faces which is… no actually I liked that part). I also think Matthew Vaughn reuses some of the same action that we have already seen in Kick-Ass; the flips, wrestling move with headshot finisher, the first person camera gunplay. The action is good, but some of it felt the same. In many ways, this movie is also just a little too self-indulgent, especially in whatever Samuel Jackson was doing , the church fight (imagine that Kick-ass scene linked above extended two or three minutes), the head explosions.
Also, in movie that literally pops the heads off the establishment, why they included a hinted anal sex scene with an incarcerated princess is beyond me! The sexuality represented in those old movies falls straight into the column of an exploitive, sexist, male fantasy, so why go for that here. I did like that villain’s plan working and Colin firth was pretty great. [/spoiler]