KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE—-2014 action homage/parody of Bond films is visually extravagant, directorially flashy, generally entertaining. It’s also absurdly violent (comic-book style mayhem), emotionally empty, thematically nasty and sucker-designed to pull in a younger demographic of culturally desensitized iPhone infants who wouldn’t know sophistication from dogpoop.
A super-secret organization of polite, urbane English gentlemen with a vast stockpile of gadgets operate independently of government, smashing evildoers. Into their highbrow ranks comes a street hooligan who is deemed trainable, just in time to foil a megalomaniac who seeks to radically thin the pesky human herd.
As long as the focus stays on classy Colin Firth, Mark Strong and Michael Caine, the lethal old pros, it glides through some bravura set pieces. When the script shifts to the new punk (Taron Egerton), his sour family and his underclass street crowd it stalls with boorish behavior, convenient profanity and the type of Brit brute we’ve seen a soccer-stadium full of.
Figures, with high-born director & co-writer Matthew Vaughan having already rooted around grotty pub thugs in Snatch, Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Layer Cake. He’s got an eye for splash and smash, no doubt, and the film looks good, insofar as art direction, camera moves, stunts and scoring go—and in this sort of winking wanking that’s about all that counts.
Samuel L. Jackson blows it off as the silly head villain, while Sofia Boutella slices her way through cast members as a killgirl outfitted with bladed prosthetic legs: do we sniff Tarantino in the hood? The controversial ‘church massacre’ is something to behold, for better or worse.
Mark Hamill has a bit, along with Sophie Cookson and $81,000,000 worth of production dazzle. Great suits are courtesy of Savile Row, and a galvanizing music score from Henry Jackman keeps it moving along. It raked in $414,000,000, and generally good reviews, although they were almost all laden with admissions of guilt over enjoying the carnage. I liked it, too, while acknowledging that it’s just elaborate junk. 129 minutes.