Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) – reviewed by George

This is a private secret service, neither a part of MI-5 (the equivalent of the American NSA) nor MI-6 (the equivalent of the CIA). It was founded either by a very upscale haberdashery and its owners, or by the tailors there, or by both – I remain fuzzy about that part of the exposition.
The opening sequence in “The Middle East” involves one of the good guys jumping on a bomb to save the rest of his team. Galahad (Colin Firth), Lancelot (Jack Davenport), and Merlin (Mark Strong) survive. Back in London Galahad visits the dead man’s wife and small son, perhaps four or five years old, to give them the nation’s thanks and a medal with a number on the back. Call it and say, “Oxfords, not brogues”, and get any favor you need (once). The wife angrily rejects the medal and Galahad gives it to the boy, Eggsy. The movie’s title appears and it is “Argentina 17 Years Later”. A university lecturer, Professor James Arnold (Mark Hamill), is being held by a very suave gunman and his aides. They are awaiting the boss’s arrival and his interrogation of the prisoner. A knock on the door proves to be a Brit who proceeds to shoot the door-answerer and then shoot through his body to dispatch the others. A knock on the door draws the Brit to it, but before he gets there he is struck with a sword so sharp that it splits him in two, crown to crotch. The two halves separate and fall…. and we still have someone knocking at the door. The killer is a woman with artificial legs of the new titanium type. She runs to get blankets and covers the bodies and the two body halves, and she is aided in this cover-up by the fact that there is absolutely no blood – none at all (?!?). She opens the door, says, “All is clean.”, and…. in walks Samuel L. Jackson.

Well, with no prior knowledge of this film, and with “Secret Service” in the title, this was definitely not what I was expecting. But now, even though you may think I’ve said too much, you will at least know what to expect. And I did not identify the Brit who got split.

Galahad goes to his club, is directed to the dining room, and meets there his boss, logically called Arthur, who is played by Michael Caine. They put on glasses and now they can see holograms of the other attendees. Nice tech.
At any rate Jackson’s character (Valentine) has decided to save the world with a simple plan which you may have seen before in another movie, but not this stylishly made: simply cull the herd. With fewer people the planet can recover from global warming naturally.
You know that Galahad and Eggsy, now 21 or 22, will be reunited, and that Eggsy will have a large part in the attempt to stop Valentine. And you will hear Galahad describe the organization to Eggsy as being “above the politics and bureaucracy that undermine the integrity of government-run spy organizations.”
This is a very good movie – suspense so intense that you may need to remind yourself to breathe – the parachute jump during Eggsy’s training was the most exciting sequence for me – and just a dash of humor in the dialogue. It made me think of James Bond with even larger amounts of snark. In another way it’s Oliver Twist taken in by a spy instead of a bookish old gentleman. And the theme is very definitely “Manners Maketh Man”.

The film was directed by Matthew Vaughn, the screenplay was written by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, AND it is based on a comic book (!) “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. Taron Egerton plays the grownup Eggsy and Sofia Boutella plays the lady with titanium legs, Gazelle.
Galahad has a wonderful line that sums it all up: “Give me a far-fetched, theatrical plot any day!” With this film as a prime example I can only second the motion.

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