Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Nearly five years ago, Kick-Ass shocked the senses of many adolescent minds everywhere(including yours truly) by giving us a daring, high concept story of how shockingly violent a world could be with real super heroes. While the movie could be called a dark satire on the superhero genre, there was no denying that it was also a lot of fun. Sure, it never really stops being incredibly scary that a ten year old girl could be trained as a heartless assassin, but there was nothing quite as inventive as the scenes that involved her beating the crap out of bad guys.

Matthew Vaughn's next superhero movie was X-Men: First Class, a movie that was good but didn't have the sort of violent, creative edge that made Kick-Ass come to life. But, now, he's back to prove himself again as the master of this gleefully violent, yet earnest kind of film-making he has shown through Kick-Ass with another adaptation of a Mark Millar Comic known as The Kingsman. This time, it's a take down on the James Bond genre and it's nothing quite like anything else.

What's the story? Well, if you've seen the trailer, it almost looks like it could be a James Bond movie by way of Harry Potter, where a kid gets discovered that he has the potential to be somebody great, but the trailers are being really deceptive in that regard. But even the first half of the movie sort of takes you through that kind of story only for the carpet to be pulled to show what this movie is really doing. It turns out that this movie is more of a Bond thriller than even the most recent James Bond movies with Daniel Craig.

In fact, this whole movie could be viewed as a sharp, meta commentary on the whole spy genre, particularly with the Bond movies. There isn't a lot of subtlety when two of the character start to literally talk about how serious the spy movies have been getting as they have been moving away from the fantastical elements that probably made those kinds of movies popular in the first place. There's also some commentary on class issues and on the way the modern government is running the world, but this movie is all about taking every Bond trope that you know and then turning it on its head. No prizes in guess that there is a diabolical villain with a secret lair, an evil henchman with metallic body parts, and a bunch of mooks in the same colored jumpsuits for our hero to relentlessly kill, but be surprised on how it all plays out.

Unfortunately, since this is one of those movies that revolves around shocking and surprising the audiences with every turn it makes, I'm not sure if I can really talk the story without spoiling it. It honestly kills me that I can't quite yet talk about a lot of the weird things that happens in this movie. But, basically, the main character, Eggsy, gets involved in the secret service by way of his deceased father being a part of the program. He gets recruited by Harry Hart, a Bondian super spy played by Colin Firth, who starts him on the path of becoming a "gentleman spy"(a literal term used in this movie as if the movie was sort of winking at the audience). While all of this is happen, we see Samuel L. Jackson as Valentine, a Steve Jobs-esque tech innovator, working on a diabolical plan of some sort to take over the world. So, with plot details like that, you could sort of guess where it's all leading to, but the movie takes a really dark turn in the middle...and that's all I'm going to say about that.

If anything else, Matthew Vaughn is quickly becoming one of the best action directors working today. What could have been overly familiar, boring fight scenes where it looks like two guys just flailing around at each other turns into ultra-violent, tightly choreographed, well shot fight scenes that still feels incredibly organic. And if one was wondering if Vaughn can only seem to do action scenes that involve creative ways to add to the body count, there's an intense scene involving skydiving that's more involving than your latest city destruction porn from your next blockbuster.

If there's any complaints that I do have with the movie, it's that one of the characters gets set up, characterized, and shown as someone who can really take care of business and then they give this person not a lot to do towards the end of the movie. And, if that wasn't enough, the character just so happens to be a female character named Roxy, the only main female character that is a part of the secret service. That was probably going to happen anyway since she's not the main character, but it's still pretty disappointing. However, the one female character who does get to do actually story stuff is one of the villains who literally has blades for legs...and it's awesome. A real character that makes for an even more imposing villain than even the main villain himself, though you're going to have to see the movie to see how that works.

Comparisons to Kick-Ass can be easily made, but, of all the movies it has most in common with, it's almost like the The Lego Movie of spy-thrillers. It rips apart the whole spy genre while simultaneously embodying it with an un-ironic sincerity. It's big, bold, audacious, gleefully violent, and also really good. After all, spy movies have gotten a little too serious lately, "Give me a far-fetched, theatrical plot any day!"

My only worry is that this movie is going to get killed at the box office thanks another young-adult novel adaptation that's even less deserving of a hit than usual. But now that you know how awesome this movie is, you know what to do this weekend!

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