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Kingsman: The Secret Service by Henry Jackman & Matthew Margeson (Review)

posted Feb 4, 2015, 4:43 PM by Kaya Savas

Matthew Vaughn immediately demonstrated his abilities as one of the most stylistically driven directors to emerge. From Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class and now Kingsman: The Secret Service he has shown his ability to craft entertaining action. The collaboration between Vaughn and Jackman of course began on Kick-Ass, the film famous for having 4 composers. Jackman emerged the winner obviously as he and his collaborator Matthew Margeson went on to co-score Kick-Ass 2 (with Vaughn only producing). Jackman of course scored X-Men: First Class for Vaughn. Now Jackman and Margeson embark together once again under the helm of Matthew Vaughn for Kingsman: The Secret Service. I think what will surprise people the most about this score is not just that it’s good, but it’s also a wonderfully lush entry into the spy genre. The score is bold, beautiful and elegant all the while subtly accenting Vaughn’s visual style.

The score is an absorbing spy thriller from start to finish. You’ll find that Jackman and Margeson do a fantastic job of setting up themes in the first act, and then carrying them through the narrative build of the score throughout. I was surprised at how reserved the music was at times as it built up to moments and fleshed out characters. I know it’s easy to compare this to something like James Bond, but it really does carry a lot of the musical archetypes of the genre. Henry and Matt’s stamps are all over it though, this is in no way a John Barry rip. It holds its own very well. The action is smoothly executed and never clunky or bombastic. There is a fluidity to the music that shines through its orchestration. A little bit of electronic textures exist, but they are used to great effect. The reverb motif heard in “Curious Scars And Implants” does a great job of crafting uneasiness. There are plenty of moments where the score does some pretty weighty lifting in terms of emotional resonance. It all builds towards the fantastic climactic tracks “Calculated Infiltration” and “Hands On The Machine”. When that main theme hits at the peak of a build, you do get chills. The whole score is expertly crafted in terms of narrative structure and overall emotional resonance. The thematic structures are wonderful, and everything about the score pulls you in from the get go.

I was very surprised at how much fun I had listening to this score. Jackman and Margeson are a very notable composing duo. What they delivered here is a score that has class, elegance, intensity and adventure. The big action moments work fantastically and always feel organic instead of forced. The quieter character moments spark an emotional resonance and never feel melodramatic. And the thematic work here is top-notch. Kingman: The Secret Service is a a great ride from two amazingly versatile talents.