‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ is Fun, Very Odd

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Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Part James Bond, part absurdist adventure, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is nonetheless a romp, with Colin Firth handling the Brit spy role with a natural aplomb. If the notion of a super secret rogue spy agency under a London tailor shop is something that sounds intriguing, that doesn’t even begin to tell the tale.

This is an origin story adapted from a comic book, so the recruits have to be gathered, and the roots of the Kingsmen must be extrapolated, but that is as interesting as the main case. Colin Firth gets to kick some ass, which is appropriate because the director adapting the film is Matthew Vaughn, who directed the first “Kick-Ass” movie. As in the previous film there is graphic, cartoony violence and sharp cinematic work, and Vaughn revels in keeping the characters under his care a bit on edge. Even the old veteran Michael Caine – as the senior Kingsman, naturally – gets to be gloriously weird. The whole thing adds up to a special night at the movies, with the spies-who-freak-you-out.

Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is a Kingsman, part of a private British spy agency that is called in once an impossible world evil must be foiled. They are all code named after the Knights of the Round Table of King Arthur, and once one of their own is killed in the line of duty, his code name must be replaced. This happens to “Lancelot,” killed in action when he encounters Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a billionaire software mogul who has his own ideas on how to solve global warming.

Colin Firth
Harry Hart (Colin Firth) in Front of Headquarters in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

Hart decides to bring in his own recruit, the son of a man that once saved his life. “Eggsy” (Taron Egerton) is a juvenile delinquent with military skills, but the rest of the recruits are upper crust snobs. Only one will survive to become the new Lancelot, and the weeding out process is to get the right person. Meanwhile, Valentine is making a software offer the world can’t refuse, with the intent of controlling a new destiny.

Colin Firth handles this high concept story with perfect crispness, which is his nature in drama, but works here also in his role as a man of action. Had he been in the right era, he might have made a perfect Roger-Moore-style James Bond, so assured and dry as he was in this role. He has two significant fight scenes, and handles each with a coolness that makes the violence more comic book than horrifying.

Newcomer Taron Egerton has the most transition to go through, transforming from a ruffian to a polished gentleman – there is a funny scene in which Firth as Hart is explaining to Eggsy what was about to happen to him trying to compare it to films, Eggsy rejects every reference except “My Fair Lady.” Once the full transformation is complete, the similarities to Firth as we first saw him in the film was uncanny.

Like director’s Matthew Vaughn film “Kick-Ass,” the style of the violence in the film had a tone and quality that is distinct in his style, awash in slow motion and film speed-up that creates a living cartoon. The main fight occurs in an American evangelical church in Kentucky, after some hateful preaching from the pulpit. There is arch symbolism in this setting – and the technique of how the fight is conducted – all to the strains of a 1970s rock anthem. It is both fascinating and unsettling, like participating in a car wreck without being injured.

Colin Firth
Hart and ‘Eggy’ (Taron Egerton) Check Out the Hardware in ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox

The story is a bit choppy, and Samuel L. Jackson “creates character” by giving his villain a Daffy Duck speech impediment (that he also has a hard time maintaining). It also has one of the oddest point-of-view concluding shots ever in an action movie. It’s a different kind of “action,” and will be gratifying if for some reason you intend to see “Fifty Shades of Gray,” but are bumped into this film because the former show is sold out.

This would make a nice Bond alternative if the producers decide to franchise. Their are the same villains, girls and gadgets, but with a different worldview and atmosphere of entertainment. This is a different type of Camelot, and a different style of dark knight.

”Kingsman: The Secret Service” opens everywhere on February 13th. Featuring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Hamill, Mark Strong, Samantha Womack, Hanna Alström and Michael Caine. Screenplay adapted by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Rated “R”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2015 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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