Kingsman: The Secret Service

Posted: February 14, 2015 in Movie Reviews

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Most filmmakers these days are looking for something new. Some new technique or twist, something that will make people remember their two-hour expedition into another time and place rather than have the experience depart their minds as quickly as it takes to exit the theater. But sometimes it’s the old-school method that makes the experience memorable. Whether the effect of nostalgia washes over you or some personal bygone memory leaps at you from the screen, filmmakers are usually out to create that ideal movie-going experience.

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Summary: (No spoilers)
At the heart of British intelligence lies the Kingsmen: an ultra-secret, top level spy organization. Decked out in the most lavish and stylish of suits—–complete with Oxfords and an array of high-tech English gentleman-style gadgetry—–the Kingsmen are among Britain’s most dedicated and sophisticated of spies. When one of their agents is killed in action, Harry “Galahad” Hart (Colin Firth—–The King’s Speech) seeks out a worthy successor to fill the void. Throughout a competitive training program, Harry seeks to train Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a young, slapdash lad whose father was a Kingsman before his unfortunate death.

When a villainous character called Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson—–Pulp Fiction, The Avengers) creates a microchip that will aid his intentions of subduing the majority of earth’s population in order to offset the effects of climate change, the Kingsmen must put an end to his dastardly plan before he wreaks havoc on the world.

Also starring: Mark Strong, Jack Davenport, Sofia Boutella, Mark Hamill, and Michael Caine.

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Kingsman: The Secret Service hearkens back to the golden age of spy thrillers—–sometimes subtly and sometimes completely straightforwardly—–when everything was cheesy and over the top. And in many ways, that’s the way this film is. At one point, the bad guy even says how in the old movies the villain would always give the hero some sort of monologue before the hero would find some clever way to stop the villain. But then he continues and says that this is not that movie (the film resorts to telling you exactly what it is) and the events end up taking a completely different turn than what you expected.

Colin Firth_Kingsmen: The Secret Service

I enjoyed that blending of the old with the new, the nostalgic with the novel. It made for some high-octane fun. The gentlemen spy angle works to the film’s advantage, pleasantly enough, and is completely reminiscent of the old James Bond films. Clean-cut men in pin-striped suits taking out a room of brawlers can be quite entertaining. And well-injected humor adds a great deal to the enjoyability.

But somewhere in the third act is where the film starts veering left field into Quintin Tarantino territory. Having an R rating, Kingsman has its fair share of gory violence. But at one point, that gory violence turns into one particular scene of sheer gory bombast. At that point, the film loses all sense of charm and sophistication (at least any sophistication it was clamoring to) in favor of grisly humor on a simpleton level.

But what adds to that loss of clever wittiness is a newly-adopted style of filmmaking (or at least a larger emphasis) in which over-the-top shaky cam and nonsensical action becomes the norm for the remainder of the film. What was once an immensely enjoyable experience quickly turns into an uneven, all-hell-breaks-lose whirlwind of tacky plot elements that would make Quintin Tarantino grin.

In a nutshell:

Kingsman: The Secret Service is clearly a film modeled off of James Bond. And while it bears many of the signature physics-defying action and exaggerated spectacle that’s meant purely for sheer fun, it can’t help but be noticed that the level of sophistication was abandoned for a more, well, how should I say it. . . dumb technique. However, all grievances aside, Kingsman is still wildly engaging popcorn entertainment infused with well-timed humor, containing a couple proper and well-executed scenes, and at least has some comprehension of classic, age-old filmmaking.

6.5 stars

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