Friday, February 13, 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service [2014]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  ChicagoTribune (1 1/2 Stars)  ChicagoSunTimes (3 1/2 Stars) (2 Stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (2 1/2 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (M. Phillips) review
ChicagoSuntimes (R. Roeper) review (P. Sobczynski) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review

Kingsman: The Secret Service [2014] (directed and screenplay cowritten by Matthew Vaughn along with Jane Goldman based on the graphic novel [GR] [Amzn] by Mark Millar [GR] [Amzn] [wikip] [IMDb] and Dave Gibbons [GR] [Amzn] [wikip] [IMDb]) is a film I did not expect to see.  I had found the trailer to be entirely too, "old time WASPish" even aggressively PRO-"old time WASPish" and then "on Steroids."  After all, the story promised to be about AN ORGANIZATION of OLD MONEYED / ARISTOCRATIC BRITS ACTING AS SUPERHEROES -- Jeez/Louise: imagine the "Downton Abbey" folks "IN MASKS / CAPES" :-).

Now don't get me wrong, I've liked, indeed even grown-up on James Bond (which the current film _repeatedly_ reminded viewers was a "gentleman spy" ... I had always considered him to be simply cool ;-).  I've also been able to accept (grudgingly) the American WASPish Bruce Wayne / Batman (who's always been my _least favorite_ of the popular American superheroes), and then the more redeemable Roosevelt-ine Xavier from the X-men.

BUT THE THOUGHT OF A WHOLE "GENTLEMEN'S CLUB" OF THESE PEOPLE????  Oh just what would we "little people" _ever_ be able to do without them? ;-)

Richard Roeper's review (link also given above) got me to see the film.  Paraphrasing, he called it an Austin Powers [2002] style send-up of the early James Bond films done in the style of Quentin Tarrantino's Kill Bill [2003].  I was intrigued ;-).

Having seen the film.  I can admit that the current film has its moments:

Samuel L. Jackson plays an inspired and appropriately crazy Bond-villain, a tech-mogul amusingly named Valentine (the film was released on Valentine's Day weekend ;-).

The film also _tries_ to soften the often insufferable Aristrocratic "Crust" of its "Kingsmen" premise by pitting an irredeemably "old school" / "snobbish" Arthur (played by Michael Caine) WHO HEADS the "Kingsmen" organization, against a more human, more open, more optimistic, indeed "more pure" Kingsmen AGENT named Harry Hart (played by Colin Firth) signaled also by his codename Galahad.  Hart / Galahad repeatedly appears to recruit "young people with potential" to the Kingsmen group, including the film's main / budding protagonist Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin (played by Taron Egerton), while Arthur seems to always look for reasons for belittling and rejecting them.

But the film has its problems:

Consider simply that the film's "Bond Villain" is both BLACK and a "TECH MOGUL" (by definition NEW MONEYED).   And the Grand Plot that he's concocted is that he's gonna "solve Global Warming" by killing off a vast number of (generally poor) people.  It's basically the saw that "Liberals are more concerned about 'the Planet' than about PEOPLE."

But then the actual means that Valentine conceives for liquidating all those people is actually quite frightening and MAY keep fair a number of "Bilderberg Group" conspiracy theorists up at night afterwards ;-)

So what then to ultimately say about the film?  It is a largely inspired send-up of the old James Bond films.  All the main characters are quite well drawn, even if there are aspects of the story that I find unsettling, in particular that the film does seem to portray the Old as being basically Good and the New as being basically Bad.

That said, I do believe that this is a story that's "one heck of a ride." ;-)

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