Review: Kingsman – The Secret Service (spoilerific)

Believe it or not, we went to the theater and saw a movie. We rarely go but when we do Thursday is the day of the week because there are few other people, especially at the first showing.

OK, here’s the trailer for Kingsman: The Secret Service. All set? Here we go . . . 

No! . . . wait . . . if you be one of them there not-wanting-spoilers people (I’m one), then stop reading right here. Otherwise, here we go . . . 

We both liked the movie. I was already somewhat confident of it ahead of time because it’s from the same people who did the first — and in my opinion, only — Kick-Ass movie; the one without ‘I-ruin-everything-I-attempt-to-act-in’ Jim Carrey.

I would call Kingsman an action-spy-thriller-comedy. 

The premise is a little tough to swallow; it involves rich folks acting altruistically and for the good of mankind, something that, from personal experience, I have never noticed in rich folks.

Oh sure, after they have made billions, ruined many lives, and bear the responsibility for much misery, some billionaires donate a few million dollars here and there and call it philanthropy. That’s like me doing the equivalent of giving ten dollars to charity after I steal the coat off a homeless guy and sell it to another homeless guy for fifteen dollars. But I digress.

Assuming you buy into the premise rich folks decided to use their wealth to create a spy organization independent of the politicized spy organizations like the CIA, SVR, SIS, et. al., then you’ll have no trouble buying into Colin Firth as a badass secret agent. A prim, proper, and deadly secret agent.   

I have to hand it to the man; he did a great job. Mind you, there were a few scenes where he looked all slim and powerful, but those scenes looked doctored up . . . unless the actor lost a crapload of weight, which I suppose he might have.

One could also tell when the fights used a double, but only if one is a pedantic asshole who notices those things without meaning to.  

Still, Firth played a very good role.

The proverbial protégé trope . . . Firth takes to a kid with a shitty life, good intentions, but traveling the wrong path to a bad ending. The trope never gets old, mostly because I still hope some long-lost and here-there-to unknown alien race comes back to claim the long-lost son of their galactic ruler . . . me. 

Yes, the set-up is a cliché, but one that still works, and for good reason . . . we can all identify with it. That said, I like that it was used to extol my views on things like personal responsibility, honor, and the importance of not compromising on either.

The Plot.

Lawrence Fishburne did an amazing job as the villain trying to imitate Samuel L. Jackson . . . no, wait; that WAS Samuel L. Jackson! Summabirch; I just realized that! 

Anyway, Samuel L. Jackson plays a more realistic billionaire, one intent on wiping out a large portion of the human race to supposedly save said human race from itself (think the stupid plot reveal of Watchmen).

You see, and this I agree with, we’re multiplying like if someone was handing out gold stars for having the most kids. This in turn is driving actual changes to the planet — not unreasonable since the data supports it — and said planet will take steps to remedy the situation if left unchecked.

Here’s a part of the plot I could believe . . . many world leaders, including ours, and by our I mean our current President, and many influential people buy into the proposed solution.

And what is the proposed solution? Well, the solution is giving the unwashed masses free wi-fi access in the form of a chip for their phone and then using the phone to transmit a signal driving everyone to uncontrollable violence. They would then kill each other. Unwashed masses problem solved. 

If you are tempted to question the premise, try testing it out by publishing a cartoon disrespecting Muhammad. 

As part of agreeing to the deal, said co-conspirators are implanted with a chip safeguarding them from the effects of the signal. But unbeknownst to them, the chip also contains the means to blow their heads up by heating their brains (think of a pressure cooker made of cheap and flawed metal). This is done for security reasons in case any of them tried to blab about the nefarious plot.

Here I hit on the second unbelievable plot detail . . . that world leaders, politicians, and elected officials would have sufficient brains to heat up.

I’m thinking more along the lines of a single popcorn kernel which would, at best, wake them up from their stupidity-and-greed-and-ambition-induced torpor . . . only to fall back asleep hugging their ill-gotten personal gains as they smile at the gullibility of the people who voted them into office. 

But, OK . . . politicians, brains, BANG! The few who do not go along with the plan are imprisoned in a secret mountain lair. The only reason for this twist is —as far as I can tell— so that the hero can get himself a piece of tail, but more on that later.

Meanwhile, in a premise that might be an homage to Ender’s Game, the concurrent plot is that Galahad (Firth) submits the underdog-kid-with-potential as a candidate for a recently opened position of Kingsman agent. The training is rigorous and deadly, and eventually only two remain . . . our hero, Eggsy, and a female candidate that is somewhat less Kingsman material than I am. 

What? No, not even close. I’m no secret service material, but I would not shoot a dog to prove anything.

You see, as part of their training, each candidate chooses a pup, training it and caring for it  . . . until the final test, which is to shoot the now grown dog. 

Our hero, and a true hero in my book, refuses and fails. The other candidate, Roxy, shoots the dog, and becomes the new agent. 

So, here’s the twist . . . the gun had blanks.  

. . . and here’s my problem with this plot twist. I can only assume successfully passing this last test means one is willing to do whatever it takes, including shooting a dog for no reason whatsoever. That is not a good thing because of the following: the dog did nothing. It has no inherent evil. It would be the equivalent of shooting an innocent bystander just because. 

One can see the similar scene played out in the Bourne films . . . to graduate Bourne had to shoot an unknown man. BUT . . . Bourne had gone without sleep for a long while and was told the man was a bad guy. 

There is absolutely no reason to shoot the dog other than to prove one would unquestionably obey orders . . . again, not a good thing in my book. 

So, Eggsy is washed out of the program. Except Galahad hints that he could fix things, but first has to go to church.

You see, clues have been left about Samuel L. Jackson’s (Valentine’s) plot, and said clues point to this bigoted right-wing-nutso-laden church. It turns out the church is Valentine’s testing ground; he activates the signal while Galahad is in the church. A massacre ensues (good fight scene, by the way) with Galahad as the only survivor. He exits the church and is confronted by Valentine.

After exposing the plot, Valentine kills Galahad who, through his glasses, was transmitting the whole thing back to base where his protege was watching. Also watching are Merlin (the technical wizard of the organization played by Mark Strong – also from Kick-Ass) and the head of the organization, Arthur (Michael Cain in a very bland role). 

Eggsy meets with Arthur, and another nonsensical plot twist occurs. It turns out Arthur is in league with Valentine. This is stupid because of previous scenes where Valentine is trying to figure out who these guys are. 

Anyway, Eggsy discovers the fact by noticing the scar from the implant . . . ah, the little details, always giving the bad guys away. This should be added to the evil overlord rules . . . hide the implant scar from view.

As far as I can tell, this scene is only in there to showcase Eggsy’s Vizzini-like skills. Using said skills, Eggsy bests Arthur and then takes evidence of the deception and plot to Merlin, and together with Roxy (the dog shooter) they decide to thwart Valentine’s nefarious plot.

This is where the movie lost some of its edge, at least for me. I think Galahad was such a presence on the screen that it could not be matched by the younger actor. Eggsy did not measure up. Sure, he kicked some ass, but not with as much style. While entertaining, the movie was a bit anticlimactic, and the visuals went way over the top, almost as if they tried to get Jim Carrey but opted for crappy CGI effects as a substitute. 

Mind you, it was entertaining watching world leaders get their comeuppance, but it was overdone. Even the climactic fight scene between Eggsy and Gazelle (a female badass villain with curved blades and spikes in place of regular legs) left something to be desired, like maybe some drama, tension, or even a questionable outcome.   

I also did not like that the plan was activated and billion of people set about killing each other.

The plot should have had the Good Guys stop it before that; having the signal sent added nothing to the movie and made me feel bad for all the people who died or were hurt, not to mention the ensuing guilt of people who possibly killed or hurt friends and family. 

Then again, people drink and do those same things. Still, that is by choice (don’t give me the bullshit they can’t help it). 

The other point that I really disliked was the whole Swedish Princess angle. Apparently Eggsy needed the promise of anal sex from an incarcerated Princess as incentive to save the world . . . somewhat less noble than I would have hoped.

This was probably a throwback to the James Bond films — except the anal part seemed like a gratuitous and unnecessary add-in — but to me it undermined the efforts of the rest of the female cast setting examples of capable and worthy-of-admiration force-of-nature butt-kicking badasses.  

. . . she was a Swedish Princess; perhaps that’s how they are up there in the frozen North, but still, unnecessary.

However, as with all films I reviews, I only present the above in the hope filmmakers might read it and correct unnecessary mistakes in future movies. So far, I seem to have had little to no effect. 

But make no mistake about it . . . We liked the film and will watch it again when it crosses our path. We might even buy it.

That’s it.

No, Wait! I finished putting down the grout in the laundry room . . . 


We are pretty happy with the results. I just need to put back the trim and bring back in the rest of the laundry-related stuff.

OK, now that’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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