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Monday, December 29, 2014

KINGSMEN: THE SECRET SERVICE


By D.E.Levine

Can you visualize Colin Firth, Best Actor Oscar winner in The King's Speech as a James Bond type secret agent?

I couldn't imagine him in such a role, but there he is, sleek and debonair and one of the Kingsmen, an elite group of underground spies and secret agents who repeatedly risk their lives for Queen and country. And, he has all the right moves.  In carefully choreographed fight scenes, Firth proves himself a skilled fighter not a lover.  He's cool and laid back, the perfect British gentlemen with bowler and umbrella, and great fun to watch.

 Similar but smaller and more elite than MI5, each of the Kingsmen is known by the name of a knight from King Arthur's roundtable and their leader, Arthur, is played by Michael Caine.

Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is Galahad and he offers street tough Gary "Eggsy" Unwin (Taron Egerton), some sound advice when he tells him "if you're prepared to learn and advance, you can transform".

With Hart sincerely interested in him, Eggsy begins his transformation from street tough with a dead father and abusive stepfather, into a true British gentleman.  He is given a real chance to qualify for the Kingsmen organization when Lancelot is killed and the group is seeking a replacement.  Qualifying is tough.  Besides stiff competition, the tasks applicants are put through are difficult and actually life-threatening.

Directed by Matthew Vaughn who co-wrote the script with Jane Goldman, Kingsmen is lots of fun. While it spoofs the James Bond characters and films it is seriously an interesting and exciting action film in the secret agent genre.  It's based on a comic book written by Mark Millar and if it takes off, may well be the basis for a new franchise.

Samuel L. Jackson as the key villain, Richmond Valentine, is superb.  His plan to stop global warming and population problems is radical and scary.  His villain is rather silly however, since he has a noticeable lisp that weakens his bravado and although he advocates mass murder, he can't stand the sight of blood.  His "right hand man", a woman named Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) has no such weaknesses and happily kills everyone she can with an assist from her two artificial limbs.

This isn't a James Bond 007 film and in some ways it's more fun and more satisfying.  The audience has no expectations because it's the first time these characters are making their appearance.  Since viewers don't know what to expect there are fewer expectations and more surprises.

There's real excitement, lots of humor, and real entertainment.  Although there is some violence, youngsters will find this film appealing and adults will enjoy themselves immensely.