johnlink ranks KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2014)

This was advertised, initially, in a way which made it seem like standard PG-13 spy movie stuff. It looked like a cross between James Bond and NATIONAL TREASURE. The sort of movie that I would see, but didn’t feel the need to rush out for. Then I heard it was a more ultra-violent in the vein of SHOOT ‘EM UP. That still didn’t make me rush out, but it sounded a bit more intriguing.

colin-firth-in-kingsman-the-secret-service_

I watched KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2014) on 1.12.16. It was my first viewing of the film.

This is a shameless movie, and that is a good thing. This is spy-movie as meta-film. It is self aware in its references to James Bond, Jason Bourne, Jack Bauer and the idea of a hero fighting against a monologuing super-villain. KINGSMAN embraces most of these cliches, choosing to buck them only when they make a point about how they are going to buck them.

The story takes place in England (this is a wonderfully British film) and has a young fatherless man, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) living in squalor as his mother suffers an abusive boyfriend. Eggsy has tons of potential, but can’t stay in school, the marines, or in a good job. He is soon recruited by his father’s former colleague, a man named Harry (Colin Firth), who is a member of a British specialized spy group called the Kingsmen. This group is lead by Arthur (Michael Caine), and has a new spot open after the death of one of their agents at the hands of the American super-baddie Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson).

This is a hard-R movie with absurd levels of computerized violence. There are literally dozens of head explosions in one scene, there are hundreds of people killed in another sequence (in a church no less), and the movie starts with someone getting cut in half down the middle. This is not NATURAL BORN KILLERS trying to peddle violence in a realistic way, but instead creates a hyper-real world in which the computer graphics create a layer between the film and the viewer.

The violence is unrealistic and so it invites you to have fun. Samuel L. Jackson plays Valentine as a likable guy who hates blood and has a lisp. He may be the villain, but we are invited to laugh at his hi jinx. Egerton is really solid as Eggsy and he gets a nice foil in fellow recruit Roxy (Sophie Cookson). The veteran actors in this are all super fun. Michael Caine does Michael Caine stuff. Colin Firth probably had more fun making this than any other movie he has been in. The ‘Q’ role is filled more than ably by Mark Strong as ‘Merlin’. And Valentine gets a nifty blade-footed right-hand lady, in Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), who brings a real energy to a bunch of fights.

This movie borders on silly quite a bit, but it is never anything but immensely likable. This may or may not launch a new series, but KINGSMAN is the kind of movie which Hollywood too often shies away from. We get plenty of tame fare, plenty of homogenized action, but we get too few films which really just throw so much funky coolness at us and force us to either ride or get off the bus.

If there are more KINGSMAN movies to come, I’ll be there. In the meantime, I hope there are more movies like it.

SCORES

FILM: 5; MOVIE: 9; ACTING: 6; WRITING: 6

5+9+6+6+0=26

FINAL SCORE: 6.5 out of 10

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~ by johnlink00 on January 14, 2016.

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