Sunday, March 1, 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service: Review

Cinemark Ticket Stub

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a tribute and a curiosity.  It definitely is inspired by James Bond and at other times it feels like Austin Powers.  I read that it's more of a Kick-Ass take on the larger-than-life spy film.  What is fact is that it is based on a comic book.  It is comical and a bit abrasive.

Original Comic The Secret Service
From the source comic, The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.
I was originally interested in this because the director did an interview in Entertainment Weekly where he expressed his delight at using Colin Firth in unexpected ways.  I think Colin was on record having said he took the role for the same expectation subverting reasons.  I thought this was very cool and, indeed, it is.

At the beginning we meet Harry Hart (Colin Firth) and some of his fellow agents.  A tragic loss occurs.  Harry feels like he owes a debt to the family of someone that died.  Eventually, the dead man's son, Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin,  is recruited into a Kingsman academy, of sorts.

Eggsy (Taron Egerton) meets a handful of people at this academy, some are jerks (Jack Davenport) and some are sweet (Sophie Cookson) and some are forgettable.  Much of the film is about him trying to get through the intense academy experience.

Sophie Cookson
Sophie Cookson.

In other corners of the world, a megalomaniac named Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) is trying to save the world in a very destructive manner.  He's really a misunderstood hero.  Valentine likes to wear Nike hats and shoes, all his clothes are pristine (he often puts his feet on tabletops and we see his impeccable sneakers), and he talks with a lisp and abhors bloodshed.  Most of the bloodshed is carried out by an assassin/assistant (Sofia Boutella) with prosthetic legs that have very sharp blades where the heels would be.  She slices and dices many people and is definitely in the tradition of Oddjob and Jaws. 

Harry Hart, Eggsy, and Merlin (an agent touchingly played by Mark Strong) must face down Valentine and his nefarious crew.  I will not go into the diabolical plan as that is part of the fun.  And trust me, I've given away very little about this film.

This film earns points for being clever and generally fun.  I remembered ogling a blonde from the trailer, turns out it was Hanna Alström as a princess.  I'm very glad this film made use of a Swedish model, they are so often best (also check out Lara Stone).  I didn't like the crudeness of the second-to-last scene involving the princess, but she was a pleasure to behold.

Hanna Alström
Hanna Alström in background.

Lara Stone
Lara Stone.
As a whole, I enjoyed the film.  However, I thought it was too clever for its own good.  I wouldn't be eager to re-watch this although it was one of the films I anticipated most for 2015.  There are excellent moments of planting and payoff, an excellent character arc, and surprising moments, no doubt.  There is one particular quote that resonated with me: "There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self."  That is a moment of top tier wisdom in an, at best, slightly above average film.


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