Sunday, February 15, 2015

"Kingsman: The Secret Service" Review

I've never seen anything quite like "Kingsman: The Secret Service" before.

Essentially, it does for the spy thriller what "Cabin in the Woods" did for horror - turning genre conventions on their collective head, while occasionally reveling in them, in order to deliver unapologetic, blockbuster entertainment with a brain. That's something we have too little of these days.

Unlike "Cabin" which left perhaps a few too many questions unanswered, "Kingsman" has some of the tightest plotting of any film in recent memory. It's really not much different from the archetypal team of super-spy good guys working together to bring down the maniacal villain. But as our hero Eggsy (Taron Egerton) says, "this ain't that kind of movie."

The characters frequently poke fun at the traditional roles of the hero and villain in classic spy films. James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Jack Bauer are all directly name-dropped at one point.

The villain, Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), is motivated by real-world issues such as global warming and attacks the masses where they live through a signal emitted from smartphones and other mobile devices - the very technology we rely on every day. With recent concerns over iCloud's security protocols and fear that cell phones are like a microwave for our brain, it wouldn't be crazy to think that a guy like Valentine could exist in the real world.

What's more is that "Kingsman" is engineered from the ground up to appeal to the suppressed aggression of the masses; a.k.a. the people who enjoy paying to see ultraviolent action films in theaters. One controversial scene at a church full of hate-mongers in the American south is probably the film's best example of this. I won't get into the (literally) gory details; this is just one of those crazy movies you have to see to believe.

Though it's marketed to look like the next "Agent Cody Banks," parents beware. The film is loaded with f-bombs, loose limbs, and all manners of violence you can imagine. If that's none of your concern and can stomach stylized violence with a little blood & guts, then you'll have a blast with the "Kingsman."

PROS: tight plot, well-developed characters, self-deprecating humor, thrilling set pieces
CONS: some occasionally unnecessary language and gore