The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service (R)
Film Reviews by Amy Diaz


Colin Firth is a posher James Bond teaching the new generation the gentlemanly arts of a good cocktail and defeating villainy while wearing bespoke suits in Kingsman: The Secret Service, a light but fun spy action movie.

Harry Hart (Firth), code named Galahad, is a member of the Kingsmen, a Britishy but not British-government-run spy operation. Nearly two decades ago, he missed a hidden grenade on a suspect he and other Kingsmen were interrogating. A Kingsman Hart had trained threw himself on the grenade, saving Hart and the other men at the cost of his own life. When the mission was over, Hart visited the man’s widow (Samantha Womack) and young son, Eggsy. He gave the boy a medal containing a phone number to call if he ever got in trouble.
Years later, early-20s Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is in all sorts of trouble. His mom remarried and his stepdad is the thuggish Dean (Geoff Bell) whose thuggy friends help to make Eggsy’s life of petty crime and general shiftlessness all the more difficult. After one adventure in car stealing and crashing lands Eggsy in police custody, he finally pulls out his dad’s medal and makes a call. Harry shows up to get Eggsy released and introduces him to the refined art of kicking butt with a weaponized umbrella. Eventually, he convinces Eggsy to be a candidate for the Kingsmen. The other candidates are mostly from fancy schools with upper-class accents. But Eggsy’s scrappy street smarts help to see him through most of his training, during which he befriends fellow candidate Roxy (Sophie Cookson). 
Meanwhile, the Kingsmen are tracking Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a tech billionaire who seems to have something to do with the disappearance of a climate scientist (Mark Hamill) as well as a host of celebrities and hoity-toity types from around the world. They’re not quite sure what he’s up to, but anybody whose assistant (Sofia Boutella) has swords serving as her prosthetic legs probably has something crazy up his sleeve.
At one point, Valentine and Harry, posing as a fellow billionaire looking to donate to one of Valentine’s causes, have a conversation about spy movies. They both agree that the newfangled spy movies are too gritty; it’s the old-school Bond movies, with the ultra-suave secret agent and the outlandish supervillains, that they both enjoy. This bit of meta commentary underlines where this movie is at, tone-wise. It takes snazzy spies and colorful evil-doers of the classic spy movie and adds in a bit of R-rated daring (exploding heads, a princess who gives Eggsy extra incentive to save the world) to create a movie that is far more primary color pizzazz than the grays and angst of the Bournes and modern Bond films. Which is to say that everybody here seems to be having fun and it shows. Even in their smaller roles, old hands like Michael Caine and Mark Strong seem to appreciate the blend of natty dress and scenes where interchangeable henchmen are felled by bullets from slightly cartoonish guns. In particular, Firth, who has gone from nerd-girl’s pin-up to Serious Actor, seems to be having a great time playing a character who is more genteel than Bond but still gets to take down a room full of toughs. Egerton, arguably the movie’s lead, is perfectly fine, but it’s Firth and Jackson who give the movie its energy.
“Cute and fun” is probably not what this comic-book-y action movie wanted to be but, as Mortdecai recently proved, there are worse things. B-
Rated R. Directed by Matthew Vaughn with a screenplay by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn (based on the comic book The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons), Kingsman: The Secret Service is two hours and nine minutes long and is distributed by 20th Century Fox.
As seen in the February 19, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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