May 4, 2015

[Movies] Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

With movie adaptations of comic books being all the rage, it's still fun to see lesser known titles make their way to the screen. It's been a lot easier to have the stories of classic costumed superheroes approved for a movie release, but some of the other stories that just happen to be told in a comic book format but don't necessarily involve super-powered individuals.

Kingsman: The Secret Service is one of those movies based on a comic book that I had never heard of before the movie was due to be released. I still haven't looked into the original comic book as of this time, although I am a little curious after watching the movie. And while I'm sure that the movie is a lot flashier that the comic, the movie still does a great job of selling you on the fundamental idea behind things.

What can I say? There's a certain degree of rightness for spy movies that involve a proper English gentleman, in a manner of speaking. American spy thrillers have a very different tone and color to them that feels completely different from what we see with the British stuff. And this makes things all the more enjoyable.

Synopsis: Kingsman: The Secret Service is a 2014 spy action comedy movie based on the comic book The Secret Service by Dave Gibbons and Mark Millar. The movie was directed by Matthew Vaughn with a screenplay by Vaughn and Jane Goldman. A sequel is said to be forthcoming but no details of the creative team have emerged just yet.

The movie starts with a flashback to 1997 where a secret agent gives his life to save the rest of his team. Agent Galahad (Colin Firth), feels guilt over the death and sends a medal of bravery to the agent's family with the promise that if they ever needed help, they only had to call the number of the back of the medal. Seventeen years later, Gary "Eggsy" (Taron Egerton), the son of that agent who had died, is pretty aimless in life. He constantly gets into trouble and his latest carjacking joyride finally gets him arrested. He takes a chance with the number on the medal and Galahad manages to get Eggsy released.

Around the same time there's an opening among the Kingsman with the death of Agent Lancelot (Jack Davenport) during an attempt to rescue a kidnapped scientist. Thus we meet the villain of the movie, billionaire philanthropist Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). Galahad manages to convince Eggsy to try his luck with Kingsman, although their selection process is pretty rigid, to say the least.  Training is handled by Merlin (Tom Strong), while Galahad continues to investigate the kidnapping that cost Lancelot his life.

More than anything, the movie has some amazing fight scenes. Beyond the fighting choreography itself, which is quite good, the way things were shot was pretty brilliant. Far too often in movies these days we have fights that blur by so quickly such that we don't know what's going on. Here Vaughn certainly made sure to give the fights various spotlight moves and basically just time to fully appreciate what's going on. Thus we get to see our heroes with their respective moments of awesome without keeping everything in slow motion. Things slow down a little, but are then nicely balanced with more fighting at normal or even slightly elevated speed.

Colin Firth made for a brilliant casting choice for Galahad. As much as this movie is mostly about Eggsy and his journey to become a Kingsman, Galahad is quite the prominent figure as an agent who's clearly respected by the team and of course is now playing a father-type figure for Eggsy. I wasn't sure what to expect from him in an action role and he totally killed it. Sure, the Kingsmen are gentlemen spies to the core. And that whole idea holds so much fun in itself.

Taron Egerton was an interesting choice as our young hero in this story. He's wasn't too flashy an actor to get us distracted by his prior roles but strong enough to carry things. He certainly was believable as a bit of a scamp and yet looks nicely adorkable in those Kingsman glasses. Ultimately he remained nicely rough around the edges and yet clearly suited to become a Kingsman one way or another.

The whole movie's plot was okay and certainly classic comic book fare. But at the same time, the movie aptly embraced the campiness of the classic spy movie genre even going as far as including some meta-references as part of the dialog itself. And that's really where the comedy tag in the movie genre comes from - a willingness for the movie to avoid taking itself too seriously. So we have amazing fights, strong performances and some clever bits of subtle humor.

I really enjoyed Kingsman: The Secret Service and I'm glad that we finally got to watch this movie. I'd love to see a sequel, no matter how crazy things might get. Thus the movie gets a fun 4 excellent fight sequences out of a possible 5.

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