February 11, 2015

Review: Colin Firth Kicks Ass – 'Kingsman: The Secret Service'

Colin Firth | Kingsman: The Secret Service

Loosely based on the comic book series by Mark Millar and from co-writer/director Matthew Vaughn (the team behind Kick-Ass), Kingsman: The Secret Service is a thoroughly entertaining, extremely violent, over the top riff on the James Bond spy genre. Colin Firth channels the swinging, camp charm of Roger Moore mixed with the deadening menace of today's comic book movies to execute all the worst parts of campy '60-70s era Bond films and the best parts of the Austin Powers franchise in an intense package surely to simultaneously delight and turn off viewers.

Kingsman combines most elements of conventional action blockbusters rather straightforwardly, convolutedly, and occasionally brilliantly as a troubled London street youth, Taron Egerton, gets recruited to join a shadowy spy agency with all the proper trimmings and bespoke suits. The film even eggs on and meta references its inspirations and mocks the My Fair Lady (or Pretty Woman) style exposition at times just as Vaughn surprises with unrelenting violence and the usual casual misogyny from a script by his usual co-writer Jane Goldman.

An inspired Samuel L. Jackson plays a Bond supervillain to end all villains, a nefarious tech billionaire with a bizarre lisp and quirky sense of fashion who holds nothing back in his vision to save the world by killing most of its inhabitants. He's attached to a thrilling, killer henchwoman with blades for legs played by Sofia Boutella. Sophie CooksonMark Strong, and Michael Caine round out the serviceable, familiar cast of British character actors and secret agents. The acting and energetic performances are convincing as all the players pull off some insanely choreographed action and hand-to-hand combat sequences shot with thrilling exhilaration.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is a ridiculous celebration and deconstruction of the spy genre with bursts of both the good and bad elements of it. It never lets up and wraps contemporary politics of climate change into a sinister plot that involves the world's rich and powerful. Vaughn is uncompromising and continues to go to extreme lengths to make his points. Kingsman strips genre filmmaking to its essential elements to reveal the absurdities of the entertainment we enjoy and expose/question our enjoyment of them. It's a proper good time but not for everyone.

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