the secret service

film review

With distinct tone and massive amounts of violent fun, director Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, Kick Ass)  extrapolates the best of his personal style and revs it up to 140 km/h (get it?) in this stylish British spy movie. Going in, it felt like a bastard child of WantedEnder's Game and a whole bevy of movies where the plot line includes a rebel outcast loner with special talents who is recruited by a highly deadly organization with noble intent. However, it became apparent that this wasn't exactly the standardized action tripe the previews would suggest.

Let's begin with the pleasant surprise of newcomer Taron Egerton, who more than does well by Parliament and the UN as the lead. His character was rich with loyalty, talent and a massive chip on the shoulder and this young actor has a promising career in front of him, displaying natural charisma and screen presence. Egerton evokes a young Tom Hardy and despite other entertaining performances from Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson and My-Cocaine (Michael Caine), the young thespian who portrays the English hood 'Eggsie' carries this movie. That's quite an accomplishment within such a talented cast- most notably one where Samuel L. chews up much scenery as the film's quirky antagonist, complete with a comical lisp. Oh yes, folks. This is not just Jackson playing Jackson. This is Jackson playing Jackson...WITH A LISP. Either way, he adds to a very enjoyable film with antics only possible by a screen whore like Sam.

Perhaps even a little controversial, Kingsman took extremes to a high level, depicting comic-like violence and Tarantino-esque uses of plot-driving homicide. Most of the audience will go into seeing this thinking it to be a standard, popcorn blockbuster with over-the-top action and shooting choreography from a Clive Owen or Jason Statham movie; and they wouldn't be wrong. Yet there still remains a ballsy movie that mocks British spy movie tropes and hyperbolically slams American government and culture. It's safe to say that conservative (restrained) minds will not take kindly to many elements of the film: gratuitous violence, excessive swearing, championing murder, etc. but it sure is a lot of fun to watch unfold.

Can the British elite stop the deadly lisping Samuel L. Jackson?

Why must the British aristocratic crowd be so damn suave and cool? I mean it's bad enough that our American women already get smitten by the sheer accent of the Limeys but then they gotta stunt on us with such dapper attire, proper use of language and closets of class in weaponary and accessories. Old money havin' 1%ers of a European nature. The Kingsmen are slick though, despite their expected donning of the thickest glasses frames this side of Spike Lee. If only us fat, sloppy Americans could assimilate to the way of the Old English, and I don't mean guzzling them in the streets of SoCal. These dudes with bulletproof umbrellas, taser rings, even personal underground bullet train from downtown London to the country mansion headquarters pull out all the stops to ensure that their peers know their superiority. Not only do they wear extremely classy patterns but they kick ass in them to the delight of every eleven year old's most violent fantasies.

Great fun at the movies can be expected if the viewer knows going into this that it isn't a serious endeavor. It's pure action schlock just done with English flavor and style. Hard to deny is the palpable style that steams off of this story, from a technical standpoint to a execution down to wardrobe and aesthetics. If you're looking for anything other than a controversially self-aware maniacal action film that the actors surely went into expecting to be H*A*M in their roles then you have the wrong viewing experience. For the Queen's sake, the villain's right hand man (or woman in this instance) had Oscar Pistorius blade legs which she took full advantage of in video game like fight scenes. It was a bit ridiculous but what's wrong with throwing subtlety over London Bridge every once in awhile? In this instance, Vaughn and his crew approach the magnificent over the top nature of a world domination scheme with broad strokes of a Bond film and make no quarrels about putting their foot on the gas for an enjoyable experience.

It will be worth monitoring the progression of the young protagonist's acting career. Any actor who can hold the screen with authority in the presence of Oscar caliber guys like Firth, Jackson and Caine need to have tabs kept on them. Will he delve into more Hollywood opportunities? If not for Taren Egerton's control of the main role, the movie couldn't have been as strong as it was despite the tonality and approach. Forgive my being un-PC but this young actor could be the caucasian version of an acting success story like fellow Brit John Boyega received after Attack The BlockKingsman: The Secret Service may not be a must-see in the theaters but it is more than watchable and a great escape from real political unrest.