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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Delinquent Spy

What if 007 is a former juvie?  That’s the intriguing question ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ attempts to answer.  Loosely derived from the obscure comic book series ‘The Secret Service’ by industry veterans Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, ‘Kingsman’ may be the most entertaining take-no-prisoners R-rated big screen adaptation of an independent comic book series (that is, non-Marvel or DC) since ‘Kick-Ass,’ though such examples are admittedly few.
 
Well steeped in the James Bond tradition, ‘Kingsman’ is decidedly British in its “Gentleman Spy” sensibilities.  With one major exception, that is.  You see, the Secret Service’s newest recruit is young Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (no kidding, that’s the poor bloke’s nickname), a most un-Bondlike candidate.  Sporting a baseball cap, fleece letterman jacket and bling, Eggsy resembles in dress and bearing much less a spy than one of those wannabe white rappers (uh, hip-hop artists) like "Marky Mark" Wahlberg or Vanilla Ice back in the day.  This culture clash, however, provides much of the movie’s charm and humor, as Agent Galahad (Colin Firth) does his best to transform him from a young troublemaker into a tux-wearing, martini-swirling Gentleman Spy.
 
Other than the obvious nod to the 007 franchise, there are parts of the movie that can cite ‘Ender’s Game’ and ‘Kill Bill’ Volumes 1 and 2 as its many influences.  And like the early Bond films (before they got darker), what made ‘Kingsman’ so enjoyable are the megalomaniacal villains, in this case Samuel L. Jackson (think ‘Snoop Dogg’ if he were a Bond villain), a violence-averse tech billionaire who wants to reboot the human race, and his beautiful yet lethal ‘blade runner’ henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) who, like Oscar Pistorius also revels in killing (ooh, so sue me).  Filled with wit, humor and a healthy dose of stylish ultra-violence, ‘Kingsman’ offers a fresh and welcome twist to the British superspy genre.
 
Geek Trivia: Mark Hamill made a cameo in the movie as Professor James Arnold.  Millar and Gibbons actually named the character Mark Hamill in their comic series, being the Star Wars fanboys they are.

Grade: A 
 
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