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Kingsman: The Secret Service (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 128 minutes.

Not for children.

Even though this is based on a comic book, it actually turns out to be an entertaining thriller/spoof of the James Bond genre. Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is a suave spy who can out-Bond Bond but without any womanizing. In fact, Kingsman was born when creator Mark Millar read a newspaper article about how Terence Young, the director of Dr. No, the initial Bond film, wanted to cast Sean Connery whereas author Ian Fleming thought that Bond was more like James Mason or David Niven. So Young took Connery, who was a tough, rough Scot, to his tailor and his favorite restaurants and taught him how to eat, talk, and dress like Fleming’s image of a suave spy.

Harry is a member of a super-secret spy ring that can only exist in Hollywood or in comic books, headed by Arthur (Michael Caine). Harry recruits Eggsy (Taron Egerton), who is as rough and tough as Connery probably was in 1962, pre Dr. No, to become a member. Eggsy must compete with six other prospects in a dangerous audition that requires them all to go through harrowing incidents to prove their worth. Only one will be chosen.

The bad guy is Richmond Valentine (Samuel L Jackson) who is a typical Bondian villain, a megalomaniacal global-warming believer who made his billions from tech and who has a unique solution for man-caused global warming that will cause the demise of virtually everybody on the earth. So the swords are drawn.

Director Matthew Vaughn has done an excellent job of keeping the action moving throughout the entire film. He mixes action and humor well. Firth gives his usual excellent performance and Egerton shows himself to be a fine talent.

The film is marred by repeated scenes of graphic violence. In fact, there is a scene that lasts approximately 10 minutes near the end of the film that is so disgustingly violent it made me want to leave. But it is, after all, based on a comic book, and the scenes are so stylized that they might as well be animated.

On the positive side, the music (Henry Jackman & Matthew Margeson) is terrific and adds substantially to the film.

Note that there is a scene after the end credits are rolling that is worth waiting for.