Kingsmen: The Secret Service is a throwback to fantasy spy world of the 60’s and 70’s. Ever since King Arthur and the Round Table, England has had a secret spy organization, whose job is to protect England and the world from global threats. Nine of these elite agents come together and form the “Kingsmen;” taking on the codenames of the original knights.
Release Date: February 13, 2015
Running Time: 129 minutes
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writers: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Cast: Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Samuel L. Jackson, Taron Egerton, Mark Hamill
Lead by its leader, Arthur (Michael Caine) coordinates the activities of the Kingsmen around the world. His lead agent is suave, but deadly hero, Harry Hart a.k.a. Galahad (Colin Firth). The movie begins 17 years ago in the Middle East, when Hart’s trainee, Unwin, sacrifices his life to save Hart and company during a botched interrogation. Feeling great guilt and duty at the loss of this exceptional agent, Hart offers Unwin’s toddler son, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a favor from the secretive Kingsmen themselves.
Now in the present, Hart’s partner Lancelot is killed in battle while attempting to rescue kidnaped environmental expert, Professor Arnold (Mark Hamill). Now with a vacancy at the round table, a search of the best and brightest agents is conducted in order to find a suitable replacement. When each Kingsmen submitting a candidate, Hart turns to Eggsy, now a young adult who finds himself always in trouble with the local gangs and law enforcement.
It is here that the secret world of the Kingsmen comes to light. Starting with nine trainees, each potential agent must survive not only brutal Kingsmen training but also make tough choices to keep the existence of the Kingsmen unknown to the world.
Now the fun begins as Kingsmen: The Secret Service brings back the fun of spy movies of old. Let’s start with gadgets. Bulletproof umbrella, cigarette lighter hand-grenades, and shoes with knives in the tips. Those shoes used to have a phone in the heel as an homage to Get Smart.
Then you have Kingsmen training, including sniper skills, creative problem-solving to escape deadly situations and life and death choices.
Finally, there’s the villain. The threat comes from a Steve Jobs-like genius, Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). Valentine is a hardcore environmentalist, who believe man is the reason the Earth is dying. Armed with a secret army and a deadly sidekick with knives for feet, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), Valentine is going to cause everyone on earth to kill each other thanks to a sim card with the power to heighten levels of rage.
Kingsmen: The Secret Service works because it is cool to be a Kingsmen. They dress in the best suits, they have the best gadgets and they live a fine lifestyle, while protecting the world. Not sure they get as many women as 007, but you want to be one. If you didn’t like Colin Firth in the past, you’ll like him now as the suave fighting machine. Even more enjoyable is the transformation of Egerton’s character, Eggsy, from a street kid into the next Kingsmen.
Every good spy thriller needs a good villain with a globally evil plot. Samuel L. Jackson never takes on a role half-assed. And as the villain Valentine, Jackson plays a formidable intellectual opponent with his almost invincible assistant, Gazelle. The character choices Jackson makes in the way Valentine dresses and speech is inspired and fun to watch.
The action and special effects are cool, especially the opening montage. Also, the violence is quite graphic. It’s a notch or two above cartoon violence and a notch below graphic novel violence. Some scenes may be hard to watch, but cool none-the-less.
Just like graphic novels, the movie is directed by Matthew Vaughn and written by Mark Millar. Both are no strangers to creating a fantastic world and a tell a complex story in a simple way.
Kingsmen: The Secret Service is a bright spot of the original action during a snowstorm of bad movies.