Review: “Kingsman: The Secret Service”

Not being familiar with the comic book that “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” is based on, I’m glad for the title clarification because I would have assumed the “secret service” part meant the American branch that protects the President. (Nor is this a biopic of the guys who did “Louie Louie.”) No, this takes place mostly in London, where the titular spy organization has its headquarters in a Saville Row suit shop, though that means taking a elevator vault ride into the bowels of the earth to reach it. The Kingsmen are a group of secret agents who dress as upper crust Brits, though on closer inspection, everything from their Oxfords to their umbrellas contain the necessary ammunition to defeat the bad guys.

In the opening scene, set a decade beforehand, Colin Firth makes a crucial mistake when interrogating an Arab prisoner, which results in the death of young Taron Egerton’s father. Because the mom’s too grief-stricken to care, the boy is given a special amulet with the organization’s number on it and told that he can make one phone call for help whenever he so chooses. Fast forward ten years, when Taron gets in trouble with the law and gets Colin to bail him out. Colin then informs him that he would make an excellent Kingsman, if he decides to undergo the training, but in the tradition of young movie heroes who are unexpectedly told that they have a gift, he at first wants no part of it. But after witnessing Colin turn into a pinstriped Ninja and take down a group of thugs in a pub, Taron changes his mind and begins training with a group of blue blooded peers and the requisite spunky girl.

Meanwhile, a lisping billionaire villain, played by Samuel L. Jackson, has masterminded a plot to reduce overpopulation, which involves giving a large number of people free cell service, and will result in many becoming spontaneously violent or having their heads explode into fireworks.  Fortunately, even though one of the main Kingsman dies and Taron unexpectedly fails his training, he’s still needed, so the whole thing no longer matters, and he gets to spring into action and show his stuff.  It’s also lucky that the head of the organization, despite having survived to a ripe old age presumably on his wits and cunning, is easily dispatched of (and the movie passes up an opportunity to make a “Princess Bride” joke), so it’s on to the end of the world gala in order to stop the villain.  Toward the end, a foreign princess promises Taron anal sex if he saves the world, and so with that incentive, he goes all out.  (On the way to the end, among other casualties, is a church full of rednecks because it’s apparently okay to mass murder bigots.)

The movie is rated “R”, I guess for language because there’s no sex, and the violence didn’t strike me as anything worse than something you’d see in a PG-13 movie like “The Hunger Games.”  The young cast members didn’t make much of an impression on me, but the adult actors all do a great job, particularly Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Mark Hamill (who plays an academic expert on global warming).  It’s best seen if you want something mindless, entertaining and very action-packed.  But it’s better if you don’t try to analyze it for logic while you’re watching.  Save that for afterward.

 

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