BY CHRIS SANCHEZ
Upon seeing early trailers for “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” I first thought it looked like an intensified PG-13 teen spy flick.
But don’t be deceived. This a hard, R-rated, blood-splattering picture and a bloody good time, at that.
One could say “Kingsman” is paying homage to typical spy fare, but director Matthew Vaughn has more in mind than that. He adapted this film from a comic book and pulled off juggling both mediums nicely.
Eggsy (Taron Edgerton) is a young U.K. tough guy who’s the son of a former Kingsman, an elite member of a secret international spy organization, led by Michael Caine’s Arthur who’s in charge of recruitment of new members, particularly after the demise of a former operative. Arthur entrusted the best Kingsman of all, Galahad/Harry Hart (the suave Colin Firth) to find candidates to fill the shoes of the best spies in the world.
Galahad sees a lot of potential in Eggsy despite his rough upbringing. He’s a smart lad who unfortunately comes from the British version of the projects and is constantly abused by his step dad. Galahad also feels like he owes a debt to Eggsy’s father, who once saved his life.
Galahad takes him under his wing, showing him the ropes of being a spy, including gadgetry James Bond couldn’t have dreamt of.
In no time, Eggsy has to duke it out with other potential operatives, led by a strict Mark Strong. The tests the candidates are put through are bizarre and sometimes life-threatening, much like Eggsy’s path, but they’re thrilling to watch, especially as they nod to others in the genre.
As an unlikely hero, Firth proves to be a bona fide badass, as he plays a Bond-esque role who is clean cut, sleek, wears perfectly tailored suits, and has the coolest weapons I’ve seen in film in quite some time. When he takes Eggsy to a bar and gets into a scuffle with drunken patrons, it’s a royal treat just to see what Firth’s got in store for them. Newcomer Edgerton suits himself well against heavyweights like Firth and Caine, and should prepare for a promising future.
The goal for the Kingsman is to stop an evil globe techie, Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) from global genocide, even though the sight of blood makes him queasy. Luckily, he has the help of his sidekick Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) who has sharp-edged prosthetic legs that could easily slice a person to bits. What ensues here is a nasty little spy thriller. The journey Eggsy goes on tests his morals and his place in this crazy spy world.
The film is full of over-the-top cartoonish violence and dark humor, something Vaughn is accustomed to considering his previous film, 2010’s “Kick-ass,” but he adds some wit and sophistication like his 2011 comic reboot “X-Men: First Class.” There are some scenes of violent mayhem that may leave viewers with a sour taste in their mouth, but if you can get past those, then this stylish, subversive and savage film will take you on the ride of your life.