Time to Remember
Director Mathew Vaughn's latest movie Kingsman: The Secret Service is a fresh new take on the spy genre previously dominated by Ian Fleming's 007. Filled with homages to previous spy films (including a tip of the hat- I mean umbrella to UK TV import The Avengers) he puts them in a blender to make something new and reminds us how fun the genre can be.
A secret Agent is killed in the middle east and agent Harry Hart (a pretty kick-ass Colin Firth) delivers a medal of bravery to the agents widow and young son. She wants nothing to do with it and he hands it to the boy, telling him if he ever needs a ...favor to call the number on the back.
Flash forward 17 years to the now chav-ish youth named Eggsy (Taron Egerton in a breakout role) getting arrested for joyriding in a rivals car. Unable to rely on his mum for help because of her abusive boyfriend, he calls in the favor and is promptly released from jail, where he is greeted by his savior Harry. Another agent has been killed while trying to save Professor James Arnold ( Mark Hamil looking his age) and there is a spot open in the Kingsmen round table (the agents are codenamed for the knights of the roundtable) and Harry (Galahad) offers Eggsy the chance to follow in his fathers footsteps. Eggsy jumps at the chance after seeing Harry take down a group of ruffians in a pub (making an weaponized umbrella THE spy accessory to have!) and joins the training program. He is the odd man out amongst the other recruits as they are all proper and educated but it's his streetwise savvy that give him an edge over his snobby compatriots.
Meanwhile, Harry searches for the professor, only to find him not missing at all but teaching a class at the University. When Harry questions him, an explosive device implanted in the professors neck explodes, killing him and injuring Harry. The device is linked to the Tech wizard/tycoon Richmond Valentine (Samuel Jackson with a ?what-was-he-thinking? lisp ) who is launching his latest tech platform- an implanted micro-chip that would connect the whole world with free phone and internet access through compatible use of his sim-cards.. Of course, his intent is not altruistic at all but diabolically nefarious. When activated, the chip causes uncontrollably violent behavior resulting in homicidal tendencies simultaneously worldwide.
Witty and action packed, Kingsman pumps fresh blood into what has become a somber genre with the Bond reboot. Nifty gadgets, natty clothes (the Kingsman headquarters is housed in a tailor shop on Saville Row), and colorful villains (Valentine's number one is Gazelle who has shiny metal prosthetic legs that double as lethal blades: BEST murderous accessories since Oddjob's black bowler hat in Goldfinger) give this movie a rousing serving of fun. It is nice to see Colin Firth playing up his British gentlemanly reserve with physical prowess proving you shouldn't judge a book by it's seemingly foppish cover. He finally overthrows his iconic Mr.. Darcy role and proves his mettle in the action genre. Taron Egerton is definitely an actor to watch out for. His charismatic portrayal anchors the film and he is pretty easy on the eyes as well. I look forward to see what he does next. Sam Jackson is always a delight on screen, even if he does sound like Mike Tyson.
The film has several set pieces that stand out ( a massacre in a Kentucky church set to the guitar solo from Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird, and an explosive symphony near the end of the movie) and showcase Director Vaughns eye for visual hyperbole. One of my favorite directors in the comic-action genre (previous films include Kick-Ass and Xmen: First Class), he has a keen eye for grand storytelling with loads of wit and splashy colors.
As for the blades mentioned in the title of this review- more mayhem is executed in this film with use of blades than guns. Maybe it's a comment on gun control in the UK, or a subtle outcry at gun violence in films. Who knows. But with a shiny sword/leg prosthetic in one hand and a pistol in the other I will take the blade any day. It just seems cooler.
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