KINGSMEN: THE SECRET SERVICE: Review by Susan Granger

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When British director/producer Matthew Vaughn (“Kick-Ass,” “X-Men: First Class”) wanted to make a James Bond movie, he was rejected by the Broccoli family that controls the franchise. So he got this idea of spoofing the concept of dapper gentlemen involved in international intrigue. In the prologue, British superspy Harry Hart (Colin Firth) – a.k.a. Galahad – is involved in a botched Middle East mission that costs the life of one of his cohorts. Seventeen years later, Hart comes to the rescue of that cohort’s son, Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin (Taron Egerton), a troubled South London street kid. Read on…

Hart is a member of an elite, super-secret organization of gentlemen spies, known as Kingsman, who work out of a swank Saville Row tailor. They operate beyond the purview of any government, taking their code names from the legendary Knights of the Roundtable.

When a Kingsman dies, inscrutable Arthur (Michael Caine) holds a competition for his replacement. Hart nominates Eggsy, who finds himself up against aristocratic snobs. While Eggsy is being tested by Merlin (Mark Strong), a brilliant but batty tech-billionaire, Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) launches a bizarre scheme to cull Earth’s population by offering free cellphone and Internet service.

Based on the graphic novel by Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons and scripted by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn, it’s filled with derring-do and outrageous gadgets. There are bulletproof blazers, programmable wrist darts, poison-spiked shoes, etc. And Valentine dwells in a spectacular mountain lair.

Wearing a baseball cap and utilizing an exaggerated lisp, Samuel L. Jackson is a scene-stealer, although suave, sophisticated Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) proves himself as an adroit, impeccably stylish action hero, an anti-elitist who firmly believes that upper-class grace is learned, not inherited.

While Sophie Cookson impresses as Eggsy’s classmate, Sofia Boutella dazzles as Valentine’s henchwoman, taking out foes with her flexible blade-runner legs. In a small but memorable part, Hanna Alstrom is a Scandinavian Princess who entices Eggsy with a crude offer he cannot refuse.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” is an amusing 8 – a rowdy romp.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.