KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015)
Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Caine, Mark Strong, Sofia Boutella, Sophie Cookson, Mark Hamill, Jack Davenport
Directed by Matthew Vaughn
The trailer for "Kingsman: The Secret Service" mentions that it's from the director of "X-Men: First Class" but its closest relative is the Matthew Vaughn directed "Kick-Ass," both films blend animated violence with dark humor, are based on a Mark Miller comic book, and were co-written by Vaughn and his usual collaborator Jane Goldman.
Colin Firth is such a suave and sophisticated actor that he should be a candidate for the next James Bond and after seeing him take out an entire congregation full of hatemongers he seems like a shoo-in for the job. Firth plays Harry Hart (Codename: Galahad), a secret service British agent at the Kingsman company that's disguised as a high-end tailoring shop run by leader Arthur played by Michael Caine (yes they all have codenames that coincide with the Knights of the Round Table). 17 years ago an agent named Lancelot (Jack Davenport) was killed due to a mistake by Harry and in order to make amends he decides to take Lancelot's son, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), under his wing and transform him from a street thug into a secret spy.
The movie plays like a Bond parody and 007 is mentioned several times throughout the film. Of course any good Bond film has to have a mastermind criminal and in "Kingsman" it's Samuel L. Jackson as Richmond Valentine. Resembling a well dressed Flavor Flav, the lisp talking Valentine is an environmentalist who wants to save the planet and stop global warming. Forget recycling and buying local produce, his plan is to kill off the majority of the population, because like a virus they are killing the planet, leaving only his selected few, mainly the rich and powerful and Iggy Azalea.
Jackson is great in the film and he's the best supervillain to come along in quite awhile. Valentine's right-hand assassin, Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) sports a pair of prosthetic blades as legs and she does all the dirty work for Valentine, who can't stand the sight of blood. Boutella's dance background helped her with the role and she is one of the coolest henchmen ever to grace the screen.
The film is centered around young Eggsy as he goes through training to compete with other hopefuls for a spot as a Kingsman and the action is fast, furious, and unapologetic. There's an intense skydiving scene and lots of fighting sequences and one all-out assault in a church that's rather uncomfortable but highly entertaining thanks to Vaughn who doesn't believe in pulling back, everything seems to be at "11."
Mark Hamill makes a cameo as a Professor who's in need of rescuing (anti-Luke Skywalker) and that's just the start of the running gags and inside jokes that make up the majority of the film. I especially enjoyed Samuel L. Jackson's villain character discussing the pros and cons of various Bond films.
"Kingsman" is Vaughn's best film since 2005's "Layer Cake" and it manages to surpass the over-the-top style of "Kick-Ass" making this one big entertaining film. A guilty pleasure if you will.