Kingsman: The Secret Service (R) - Runtime: 129 minutes
Starring: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Taron Egerton
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Release Date: February 13
Matthew Vaughn and Mark Millar team up once again to bring to life one of Millar's graphic novels. And much like Kick-Ass before, Kingsman is an apologetically violent R-rated action movie with some sly comedy mixed in. Colin Firth is top notch as a kick-ass classy James Bond and Taron Egerton makes himself a known entity with his first major role. I begin the hyperbole now: this is going to be one of the best films this year.
Kingsman is a very slick and modern take on the James Bond franchise. You've got suave gentlemen in suits kicking butt, high-tech gadgets, a femme fatale and a opulent villain with a trademark lisp. The Kingsman are a group of wealthy descendants who take up the mantle to keep the world safe, secretly. They work outside of the governmental agencies across the world and can rival even the CIA and MI6 in scope. When one of them goes down following up on a lead, Colin Firth and the rest of the Kingsman train a bunch of recruits to replace one of the spots left vacant. Enter Eggsy, a kid from the street who is the son of a previous Kingsman that died 17 years ago. Firth's character, Harry Hart, has faith that he'll live up to his father's reputation as one of the best agents. Meanwhile, Samuel L. Jackson's Valentine is hatching a plan to basically destory the world. It's diabolical and completely absurd, much like the rest of the movie.
But that absurdity is what makes this movie work. Everything, from the choreography to the characters to the setting is outright ludicrous (there's even a scene that takes place in outer space!). The movie starts right from the beginning by introducing Valentine's right hand woman, a legless martial arts master that uses her prosthetic legs to literally slice characters in half. And it just gets more badass from there. I don't want to spoil anything but there's skydiving, the aforementioned outer space scene, tons of head explosions and adorable puppies. Yes, puppies. It's part of the training regimen for the new recruits - the movie does a better job explaining it than I would.
There's one scene, in particular, that cements this as one of my favorite movies already. Colin Firth's character finds himself in Kentucky at a church that's pretty much like the Westboro Baptist Church - full of bigots and idiots that spit out nothing but vitriol. And for reasons that I can't explain unless I spoil the movie, Firth goes on a rampage against what is probably about a hundred people in this church, shooting them in the head, maiming them with crosses or decapitating these individuals with various church equipment and furniture. All the while Lynyrd Skynyrd's Freebird is rocking out its guitar solo. It's the perfect piece of music for this scene and Firth delivers such a badass performance that my jaw was dropped the whole time (I'm sure some of it was stunt men, but still). If I could have that scene playing every morning before I go to work to pump me up, I would. That scene encapsulates the whole movie - kick-ass, weird and funny all at the same time.
Matthew Vaughn has proven time and again that he's a great action director and Kingsman is another example of him taking a genre (in this case, the Bond franchise in particular) and parodying it while also paying some respects to what inspired this crazy movie. It's funny and while at times pretty crude, a fantastic action movie that is worth watching at least a couple dozen times.
RATING: KING OF THE HILL