Some folks went to see the Fifty Shades of Grey movie this weekend.
I went to see Kingsman: The Secret Service, taking my niece and nephew (ages 14 and 12).
It was so much fun! Kingsman is about an independent spy agency, Kingsman, and how a street-smart kid is recruited to be a part of a group that so far has been strictly upper upper class.
What makes Kingsman entertaining are the performances and the action sequences. It's also got humor and fun references to other spy films or tropes.
Colin Firth is "Galahad" (all of the Kingsman Knights have names from the round table; the head of the agency is Arthur, the one responsible for training is Merlin) who recruits the son of a former member. Eggsy's father died in the secret service of being a Kingsman. Even back then, his father's admittance was a bit of a test, of whether or not someone of a lower class belongs.
Seeing Colin Firth as an action hero? Doing some amazing stunts and fights? Was terrific!
Harry bringing in Eggsy is more than just guilt over the death of Eggsy's father. While Eggsy doesn't have the credentials of the other Kingsman trainees, he does have the raw talent and the unpolished skills. One thing I like about Kingsman is how smoothly these things are shown or told: his driving skills and nerve and loyalty in a sequence where Eggsy steals a car and drives it backwards in a high speed race with the police; mentioning how Eggsy did well in school and initial military training before family complications (his mother's criminal, abusive second husband); his street smarts.
While I loved the movie trailers, part of me eye-rolled at the apparently all-boys club. Yes, I get that it's partly a love note to classic spy films and tropes, but still. Luckily, the movie addressed that within the text. The origins of the group are indeed exclusive, and people like Harry are trying to make changes. Eggsy has to go through an intensive training program (part of the post-movie talk about the movie was trying to figure out how long the program was), and there were two women among the nine trainees.
The big bad is played by Samuel L. Jackson and you can tell he had as much fun filming as the audience had watching. His evil plan is -- well, let's just say that he seems sympathetic until the bodies pile up. One of the bits of dark humor is that while he's the evil genius, he's a billionaire tech genius with big ideas who hires people to take care of business -- he doesn't kill himself, because he just doesn't have the stomach for it.
Kingsman is rated R mainly for the violence, and it's action-movie violence with spectacular fights and methods of people dying. There are also some sexy things. One bit I liked -- and I hope this isn't a spoiler -- is that Eggsy develops a friendship with his fellow trainee who is female, Roxy. It was actually respectful and nice to see.
BUT. BUT. At the end, there were a few jokes (based mostly on some Roger Moore Bond films) that were bothersome. Not because they were about sex or sexytimes, but because the "funny ha ha" was about offering sex to Eggsy as quid pro quo/ reward, eliminating any respect one could have for the character speaking. It turned what had been a strong, moral character into a sex toy. She was just there to be the prize, and the last images reinforced that.
So, yes, there a few flaws with the film -- but overall, it was fun and action filled. I'm hoping there's a sequel!
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
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