By: John ‘Doc’ Strange
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, and Michael Caine
MPAA Rating: R (for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content)
Selig Rating: FULL PRICE
Runtime: 129 Min.
Spy movies are popular because they allow us to imagine we are involved in the action.  From James Bond to Jason Bourne we have seen amazing stories of daring-do and unbelievable special effects.  We watched with bated breath as Jack Ryan saved the world we know time and again.
Kingsman: The Secret Service gives us a whole new team of secret agents to thrill us.  Born in another century this ultra secret organization evolved into its current configuration following World War I.  The men and women who work for the organization are organized like the Knights of the Round Table.  There is Arthur (Michael Caine) who leads the team; Merlin (Mark Strong), the person who oversees the base and trains the team’s recruits; and eight men and women who are the foot soldiers.  Their codenames are based on the eight main knights, Galahad, Lancelot, and so on.
In 1997, Galahad (Colin Firth) and Lancelot (Jack Davenport) lead a team that includes two recruits being trained to fill an opening in the organization.  While interrogating a terrorist, one of the recruits saves the team by throwing himself on top of a grenade.  Galahad is shaken that he missed the grenade.  He visits the dead recruit’s wife and young son to convey his condolences.  He gives them a medal with instructions that should they ever need a favor, they are to call the number on it and give the person who answers the phone the phrase, “Oxfords, not Brogues.”
Jump forward to current time.  Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill) has been kidnapped.  Lancelot calls in that he has located the man and then moves in for the save.  The scene as he plows through the kidnappers is mind-blowing!  The use of slow-motion and martial arts moves has been done time after time but I have seen few done better than this.  Sadly, he is outmatched.  His death is right up there with the best deaths in any James Bond series.
Lancelot’s killer is the henchman/assistant of Richmond Valentine, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella).  Her weapons of choice are the amazing swords built into her prosthetic legs.  They look cool and are brilliantly lethal.  Her boss, Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), is a self-made billionaire who has developed a theory that mankind is a virus that is killing the Earth.  His plan is to cure that virus and save the planet by staging, as Gazelle describes it, mass genocide.
As with any madman worthy of his villain status, Valentine reaches out to recruit world leaders and others who might agree with him.  These people will be given a means to survive the genocide.  All others are expected to perish.  As he goes about his recruitment, not everyone agrees with him.  Those who disagree with him are locked away somewhere “safe”.  Eventually these disappearances are noticed.
How will he perform the dastardly deed?  He’ll offer to the entire world free phone and internet – FOREVER.  People the world over flock to get the devices required to get the access.
Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin (Taron Egerton) has had a tough life.  After losing her husband, Eggsy’s mother, Michelle (Samantha Womack), took up with a local hood.  Eggsy was doing well in school but eventually his environment beat him down.  He dropped out off the gymnastics team; he stopped applying himself to his studies.  When he is arrested following a joy ride in a stolen car (his driving is just short of world class), he calls the number and finds himself free from incarceration.
The organization has to train Lancelot’s replacement.  Each member brings in a candidate for the position.  The candidate’s training is overseen by Merlin.  Galahad’s candidate is Eggsy, defiant, chip on his shoulder, brilliant in his own way, Eggsy.  He works his way through a training process that would have dropped most people in their tracks.
While the training progresses, the Kingsmen are on the job following up on the kidnapping of the professor.  They also want to discover who killed Lancelot.  Almost immediately, they find that Professor Arnold is no longer missing.  He is back at work at the university.  Confronting the man in his classroom, Galahad is gravely injured when the man’s head explodes.
They find the little device that caused the professor’s head to explode.  The Kingsmen have to discover what else it does before anything really bad can happen.  Their investigations lead Galahad to a small hate-filled church which is on the radar of the villains.  He is caught in the middle of the test of Valentine’s new weapon.  When the weapon is activated the congregation of the church goes insane.  The fight scene is amazing!
The action builds as Eggsy and his main competition, Roxy (Sophie Cookson) fight for the open job slot.  There are other people in the competition but one by one they each wash out.  Finally, they are down to the two of young recruits.  I HATE the test they use to determine which one gets the job.  Eggsy fails and I have to agree that what he did is right and good.  Roxy becomes the new Lancelot and Eggsy goes home.
Up to this point the film has been much like watching one of the better Bond films.  The good guys have an amazing setup.  Their home base is a mansion complete with underground hanger filled with vehicles of all types.  It’s connected to their outlying locations by an underground pneumatic subway system.  And then there’s their whole persona as British gentlemen comes complete with umbrellas, and Bond-like bombs and pens.
Of course, the villains also have cool stuff and hideouts.  After all, Valentine is a billionaire genius.  He uses his money to buy the technology he needs to turn humanity against itself.  His money buys satellites and control systems so he can destroy the world’s population with the touch of his hand to a biometric sensor.
That is, he will commit the genocide unless Eggsy, supported by Merlin, can stop him.  The final action sequence as the two get into the evil lair and take the fight to Valentine is filled with some excellent fight choreography.  Some of the graphic deaths are a bit cheesy but overall kind of cool.  I don’t want to give anything away but watch for the interaction between the Scandinavian Princess and Eggsy.  All I can say is that it brings new meaning to the term “cheeky”.
This film is so much more than what I have been able to convey here.  It has amazing fight sequences, good humor, and all of the cool gadgets you could ask for.  It is a story about family and honor and integrity.  But most of all, it’s a film that is here to entertain us.  I really hope this is but the first of many sequels.  I think the future adventures of the Kingsmen would be well worth watching.  Taron Egerton did a memorable job as Eggsy.  But my favorite character was Mark Strong as Merlin.  You will likely recognize his face but I think this role will help you remember his name as well.
The Selig Rating Scale:
FULL PRICE – Excellent movie, well worth the price
MATINEE – Good movie
DOLLAR – OK movie
CABLE – No need to rush. Save it for a rainy day.
FREEBIE – Good that I saw it on the big screen but wish I hadn't paid for it.
COMMERCIAL TV – Commercials and cutting to the allotted time will not hurt this one.
FORGET IT! – Bad. If you see this one, do yourself a favor and keep it to yourself.
GET YOUR TORCHES – BAD! – Burn the script, the writer, the director and maybe even the actors!
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