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.