Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Twice in Kingsman: The Secret Service (opening today) we hear characters say, "Sorry. It's not that kind of movie." And they're right. Whatever film you think you're watching, you can think again. That sort of self-referential vibe serves Kingsman brilliantly, making it one of the funniest, bloodiest and surprisingly great films of this young year thus far.
Remember when going to the movies used to be fun?
Based on the comic book "The Secret Service," this movie feels like a comic-book movie through and through, but with an important twist: It's dark, biting (and slashing) brand of adult-only humor and violence. Being so used to comic book movies being aimed at pimply teenagers, Kingsman is instead aimed at the pimply teenager still residing in the body of the twenty or thirty-something-year-old.
A young punk known as Eggsy (Taron Egerton, in a break-through performance) is recruited to become a part of "Kingsman," a super-secret British spy organization. All of the members are given code names of Knights of the Round Table, like Merlin (Mark Strong), or the group's leader, Arthur (Michael Caine). Eggsy's dad was once a member, but was killed in action when Galahad (Colin Firth) made a crucial mistake. Galahad has since felt a tremendous amount of guilt and feels indebted to his fallen comrade...so he has kept an eye on young Eggsy and has looked out for his well-being.
Elsewhere in the world, a bumbling British professor (welcome back to the world of non-voice acting, Mark Hamill!) has been taken captive in an absurdly ambitious plot to thin the world's population, by internet mogul Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) and his swords-for-legs sidekick assassin, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella). It somehow is tied to global warming and implanting microchips into millions of people's necks, which Valentine can then control and make people go haywire by the push of a button. Eggsy will not have much time to gain experience when the Kingsman attempt to take down Valentine...and that's assuming that he will even survive the intense training.
Kingsman comfortably and confidently sits in the space between a James Bond film and the slapstick buffoonery of Get Smart. It is a parody and a comedy first, but also features some of the best action sequences seen recently. It zigs when you expect it to zag, and every time you think you finally can predict what will happen next, the characters will remind you once again: This isn't that kind of movie.
Take for example, the villainous duo of Valentine and Gazelle. Gazelle is first seen literally and swiftly cutting a man in two halves...and it's a man that we do not expect to die. Valentine is dressed like a lost member of Kid n' Play, and Jackson plays him with a lisp that makes every uttered word an act of hilarity. Valentine - as devious as he may be - also pukes at the sight of blood, quite an ironic character trait for a super-villain to have. If a spy movie is only as good as its villain - as again, characters within this film point out - then Kingsman is made stronger by the mere "prethenth" of Valentine.
The best Marvel movies have mixed stellar special effects and action with a strong awareness to not take itself too seriously. Bond films on the other hand - as of late anyways - are overly serious. Kingsman is so cool and quirky, it's nearly impossible not to buy into the film's foolishness and self-deprecating ways.
But what separates the Kingsman from recent Marvel movies is its cartoonish Kill Bill-style gore, mixed with more than a handful of f-bombs and its overall adults-only tone. Iron Man's Tony Stark might be a ladies-man, but we've never seen him become motivated to save the world based on the promise of anal sex with a princess, as our good man Eggsy is.
It's also good to see a bit of inspired creativity given to the spy genre. Where years ago, it was super-cool to have a pair of eyeglasses with recording devices in them, or a cufflink capable of shooting poisonous darts, spy gadgets haven't evolved far past then...until now. As Galahad points out, the poisonous knife-shoe did used to double as a phone, but it isn't deemed as practical as it may have once been. Now that high-tech umbrella? Pretty frickin' cool.
The humor is quite immature and I would guess that it doesn't offer too much appeal for women. But hey, if your significant other is dragging you into Fifty Shades of Grey this Valentine's weekend, the least she could do is accompany you into Kingsman. Or better yet, as she becomes lost in the on-screen smut, sneak your way into the adjacent theater. Chances are you will both leave equally excited.
Kingsman is the reason people go to the movies. Here's a comic book franchise adults can get behind. Kudos to director Matthew Vaughn, who after this and X-Men: First Class, I would now trust with anything. I for one, can't wait for the inevitable Kingsman sequel.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Run Time: 2 hours 9 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Hamill, Mark Strong, Sofia Boutella, Sophie Cookson
Based on the comic book "The Secret Service" by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons
Co-Written & Directed by Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass, Stardust, Layer Cake)
Opens locally on Friday, Feb 13, 2015
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