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All of Matthew Vaughn’s movies, ranked

Director Matthew Vaughn is one of the most divisive action filmmakers working today. Known for such extravagant and humorous movies as Kick-Ass and Kingsman: The Secret Service, Vaughn continues to make his mark on the action genre with his latest spy comedy, Argylle.

Most of his films certainly aren’t for everyone, especially considering how they emit Quentin Tarantino levels of violence and profanity. Whatever people think about these films, they still succeed in getting audiences in theaters. So, as Argylle makes its way to cinemas, let’s look at the best and worst movies in Vaughn’s filmography.

7. Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

(L-R) Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, and Pedro Pascal in "Kingsman: The Golden Circle."
20th Century Fox / 20th Century Fox

A year after saving the world, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) must team up with Kingsman’s American counterpart, the Statesman, after the titular drug cartel all but destroys their agency. For better or worse, this sequel features the franchise’s brand of extreme humor and violence.

But by killing off and bringing back characters on a dime, The Golden Circle seems to embrace the spy genre’s tired tropes rather than deconstruct them. And with its contrived and convoluted plot about the war on drugs, this movie falls from chasing the high of its own excess.

6. The King’s Man (2021)

The cast of "The King's Man."
20th Century Studios / 20th Century Studios

Exploring the origins of Kingsman, this prequel shows the original Arthur (Ralph Fiennes) and his ragtag team as they try to thwart a secret society’s attempts at orchestrating the Great War.

With The King’s Man, the franchise proves it’s just as excessive as ever with its globe-trotting adventure and many flashy displays of ultraviolence. And by having real historical figures like Rasputin, Lenin, and Hitler be in a league of mustache-twirling supervillains, this movie makes for Vaughn’s most ambitious, if not outrageous, movie yet.

5. Stardust (2007)

Yvaine and Tristan looking scared while holding hands in "Stardust."
Paramount Pictures / Paramount Pictures

Based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name, Stardust follows Tristan (Charlie Cox) when he enters the kingdom of Stormhold to retrieve a fallen star to gain Victoria’s (Sienna Miller) hand in marriage. But to his surprise, the star turns out to be a woman named Yvaine (Claire Danes), who is hunted by princes and witches alike.

This movie remains one of the most underrated adaptations of Gaiman’s work, as it’s a charming, wacky, and heartfelt adventure with plenty of jokes and stunning visuals to entertain fans of the fantasy genre.

4. Kick-Ass (2010)

Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Chloe Grace Moretz in "Kick-Ass."
Universal Pictures / Universal Pictures

When an angsty teenager (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) decides to become a costumed crime fighter, he learns the hard truths of the job as he teams up with vigilantes Big Daddy (Nicolas Cage) and Hit-Girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) to take down mafia boss Frank D’Amico (Mark Strong) and his son Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse).

This controversial film brought a new approach to the superhero genre, deconstructing many familiar tropes with its dark and shocking humor. Many people imagine themselves as superheroes at least once in their lives, and this satirical film shatters that fantasy with uber-bloody brilliance.

3. Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

Galahad in "Kinsgman: The Secret Service."
20th Century Fox / 20th Century Fox

When young Eggsy gets recruited to the Kingsman spy agency, he and his new team must stop billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) from eradicating most of humanity. Like Kick-Ass, this meta-spy comedy pokes fun at the many tropes established by the Bond films that inspired it, all while relishing in its over-the-top violence and extravagant story.

The film’s crowning achievement is arguably the now-iconic church fight scene that plays to the tune of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird, cementing itself in action movie history.

2. Layer Cake (2004)

The cast of "Layer Cake."
Columbia Pictures / Columbia Pictures

This film arguably helped Daniel Craig land the role of James Bond and gave Tom Hardy one of the most significant early roles in his career. Based on the novel by J.J. Connolly, Vaughn’s directorial debut follows an unnamed cocaine dealer (Craig) who hopes to retire from crime, only to be forced to complete two more tasks that throw him into a web of death and betrayal.

Layer Cake takes audiences into the alluring and all-consuming world of drugs and crime with captivating visuals, gory violence, and a killer soundtrack. At the same time, it displays the tragedy of the protagonist’s criminal lifestyle as he and his allies fight to escape a lethal business they’re all too good at.

1. X-Men: First Class (2011)

Charles Xavier in "X-Men: First Class."
20th Century Studios / 20th Century Studios

Taking place decades before Wolverine meets the X-Men, First Class shows Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) meeting his friend-turned-nemesis Magneto (Michael Fassbender) and forming the iconic team to stop the Hellfire Club from setting off World War III. Though it doesn’t do every one of its characters justice, this stellar prequel was the jumpstart that the X-Men movie franchise needed. With spectacular performances from its cast, a well-balanced tone, and an engaging throwback story, Marvel’s world of mutants has never felt more real.

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Anthony Orlando
Anthony Orlando is a writer/director from Oradell, NJ. He spent four years at Lafayette College, graduating CUM LAUDE with a…
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