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REEL BOB: ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’

by on January 30, 2015
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“Kingsman: The Secret Service” plays as if it were the love child of a ménage á trios among a vintage James Bond thriller, an Austin Powers comedy and “Kick-Ass.” The film is veddy, veddy British and cheeky fun, despite the graphic violence and language that peppers the feature.

What makes “Kingsman” so entertaining is that it is totally aware of what it is doing, giving you a nudge to inform you know that, yes, we are letting you in on the joke as well. A wry and defiant atmosphere envelops the proceedings as if daring the audience to try to dislike the film.

No chance of that. “Kingsman” is a crazy, no-holds-barred spy thriller that simultaneously pays homage to and tweaks the Bond milieu.

The Kingsmen are an elite group of gentleman spies who keep the world safe. They may be deadly, but they also have impeccable taste and manners. When an agent is killed, a competition is held to fill the vacancy. Among the candidates is a tough street kid, nicknamed “Eggsy” (Taron Egerton), whose father was a Kingsman killed in the line of duty.

The film is very movie-conscious. Eggsy’s mentor, Harry Hart (codenamed Galahad), suavely played by Colin Firth, uses various cinematic references to explain how
he will transform the lad into a gentleman. Suddenly, a light goes on in Eggsy’s head: Just like in “My Fair Lady,” he tells Galahad.

Casting Samuel L. Jackson as the villain helps elevate the film. His plan to change the world is crazy, of course, but he continues on with an optimistic air that overrides every setback. The fact that Jackson’s Valentine affects a lisp and is very squeamish only adds to the outrageous nature of the entire venture.

Director Matthew Vaughn, who was one of those adapting this comic book for the big screen, enjoys pulling the audience along. When Valentine and Galahad meet for dinner, they trade quips about spy movies and megalomaniac super villains that the vast majority of film buffs will appreciate.

Some people may be turned off by the viciousness of the violence in this overly lighthearted spoof. It is the same winning combination that attracted audiences to Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass.” The violence, though graphic, is so cartoonish that it really can’t be taken very seriously.

“Kingsman: The Secret Service” is a beacon in what so far has been a gloomy 2015 movie season. And it is refreshing to see Firth, who usually plays uptight and refined characters, turn badass super agent who can beat up a pubful of ruffians without wrinkling his well-tailored suit.

And, yes, “Kingsman” has some flaws: It could have been trimmed by about 10 or 15 minutes and the plotline could have been refined some, but those are nitpicks that will not deter from the overall giddiness you will feel after experiencing this delightful pastiche.

Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at Reel Bob (reelbob.com) and The Film Yap (filmyap.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at bobbloomjc@gmail.com or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found on Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE
4 YAPS out of 5
(R), graphic and bloody violence, language, sexual situations

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