Opening 12 Mar 2015
Writing credits: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn, Mark Millar, Dave Gibbons
Principal actors: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Jonno Davies
Based on a comic book series, this film tells the story of a top secret, privately run spy ring. The elite gentlemen of the Kingsman run their operations out of a supped up tailor shop in London and use code names from the “Knights of the Round Table”, at the head of this table is Arthur (Michael Caine). When one of their number, Lancelot (Jack Davenport), is killed in action, a new Knight must be found to complete the table. Each elite spy must nominate one potential recruit to undergo a grueling training program where only one can emerge victorious. Harry Hart, code name Galahad (Colin Firth), puts forward a punk kid, Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton). All the other recruits are to the manor born while Eggsy has been struggling to survive on a tough housing estate. This makes for some interesting dynamics within the group of recruits.
While the recruits are being put through their paces a plot to take over the world through mind control emerges. The lisping bad guy, Valentine (Samuel L Jackson), is a super smart technology megalomaniac who takes it upon himself to ‘fix’ the world’s environmental issues by eliminating the problem. Valentine’s plan soon requires a more gentlemanly Eggsy to show what he is made of and save the world. Ultimately, the street kid proves to all that he does have what it takes to be a member of the elite gentlemen's club, Kingsman.
This movie channels James Bond in so many delightful ways. The nifty spy gadgets have me wanting a new all dancing and singing umbrella, although not sure how dangerous this could be for the general public. The outstanding soundtrack kicks off with Dire Straits “Money for Nothing” and features KC and the Sunshine Band’s “Give It Up”, as the theme song for the launch of the world takeover by Valentine. The villainous female character, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), slices up her opponents with her ‘blade runner’-like legs, providing some gruesome outcomes. And Colin Firth delivers his traditional stiff upper lip, English gentleman performance with a side of kick arse. The writers even managed to include Eggsy ordering a Martini and the Knight getting a princess. All round good fun and adds a welcome addition to films based on comic books. (Christine Riney)
What makes comic-based films great are ridiculous situations gift-wrapped in realism, compelling action and, moral subtleties whereby ethics still count. Director Matthew Vaughn’s interpretation of Mark Millar and Dave Gibbon’s adult spy comic book series The Secret Service is a super example. Afghanistan 1997: we meet some of the cavalier Kingsmen doing what they do best. Later, Harry (Firth) visits a team member’s distraught widow leaving a symbolic medal with her young son. Seventeen years pass: Lancelot (Jack Davenport) has an unplanned encounter with the diabolical duo Valentine (Jackson) and Gazelle (Boutella), setting a series of situations in motion.
With their ranks depletion, head guy (Caine) calls for replenishments. Concurrently, the now teenage son (Egerton) gets in a predicament and utilizes the medal. Harry responds: his protégé is among the half-dozen recruit candidates. Stakes are high, the tasks grueling, and coach Merlin (Strong) is unrelenting, unforgiving, and unbeatable. Parallel, the dangerously diabolical duo’s strategy is bearing fruition. Sometimes, in the quest for good, demeaning demands are made of gentlemen.
The cast is obviously having fun, especially lisping Samuel L., decorous Colin, springy Sofia, and maverick Taron. Surmounting inherent complexities are George Richmond’s cinematography, and editing by Conrad Buff IV, Eddie Hamilton and Jon Harris. Production design, art direction, sets, and visual effects artists deserve recognition. Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson’s music embellish all. Any fan of James Bond films shall enjoy this espionage caper, right up to the firework ending. After all, “manners make a man.” (Marinell Haegelin)