Film scores

Soundtrack review: Kingsman : The secret service (Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson – 2015)

Henry Jackman - Kingsman_ The Secret Service

“Kingsman: The secret service” is a movie based on an acclaimed comic book about super secret spy organization that recruits and unrefined by promising street kid into their ultra-competitive training program. The movie is directed by Matthew Vaughn, who did “X-Men First class” among other things and is scored by his frequent collaborator Henry Jackman (I am a big fan of said “X-Men First class” score and also his “Captain Phillips”) and Matthew Margeson, a new name for me but another Hans Zimmer apprentice from Remote Control Productions. He worked with Jackman on a couple of scores before.

“Manners Maketh Man” is quite the exciting start to this score. It has more the vein of a fantasy movie than a spy one but who cares, I love the music; it’s bold, melodic and sparkling. I actually would have liked this opening track to last longer. It seems to stop abruptly after 100 seconds and this is why I am not giving it 5 stars. The next track though,  “The medalion”, fully deserves them because of the tender melodic beginning and thrilling buildup. This score so far is way more heroic than I would have though. There’s epic in Jackman’s genes and it shows. He’s not quite going all in yet but there’s hope.

When I hear the piano overture of “To become a Kingsman” I recognize the slower rendition of that buildup from before so this must be the main theme of the movie. I am waiting for an epic explosion after this warm up. Yep, there it is, three minutes into this track. But once again the composers pull the breaks and only leave me with a taste instead of something to remember. They seem to lean towards suspense even if I hear potential for something else.

I like the way pieces of the main theme appear in a lot of cues. It gives the score an identity and besides it’s a catchy theme. It flies more freely in “Pick a puppy”. “Skydiving” finally develops the full potential of this score. It soars high and it’s a pleasure to listen to. This is a great action track and I feel invested in it. It builds up towards a powerful climax and it’s all kinds of awesome. Now that I heard this though I’m going to have greater expectations from the second half of the score.

Still, this is a spy story so I supposed suspenseful tracks are due. “Shame we had to grow up” uses the main theme in a way reminiscent of how John Barry used to introduce pieces of his main themes all over his Bond scores. This cue actually could have easily found its place on a Bond score. It has the same mystery and determination. This track leads the score into a tense period which isn’t the most exciting musically for me. I like pieces of music but not entire tracks. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for those tense moments. “Napoleonic brandy” is interesting  and has a ghostly sound to it.

“Calculated infiltration” is the most daring track from “Kingsman”. It’s 8 minutes long and has time to develop. The powerful brass and the choirs really carry the beginning of the cue. I get excited about that but once again the music is a little uneven and doesn’t get fearless. There are some down moments which I could have done without. But when this cue is good, it’s amazing, like the part from 5 minutes on. Those final minutes are balls to the walls action and a score full of that would have been awesome.

“Kingsman: the secret service” falls in the category of “better in the context of the movie”. I can imagine myself really enjoying it if I would have some on screen images to match. As a standalone listen for me, it was a little uneven and it didn’t fully live up to its potential.  “Finale” tells the story of this score: it’s sometimes bold, pulsating and triumphant but it can’t keep this going for the duration.

Cue rating: 81 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 18 / 47

Album excellence: 38%

Highlights:

The Medallion

Skydiving

Calculated Infiltration

Finale

 

 

 

 

About the author

Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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