Sunday, February 15, 2015

Ten Statements About....KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE (2015)

"...a man with an umbrella is always prepared..."
“Manners maketh man. Do you know what that means? Then let me teach you a lesson."

1) In spots, this is the Avengers (the TV show, not the comic/movie franchise) movie that I always wanted, and so much of that is because of Colin Firth’s Hart.  He is the best John Steed never named John Steed, and is made all the more remarkable by the sense that Henry was as much a rebel as Taron Egerton’s Eggsy is when he was younger.  If only the Mark Millar-isms didn’t keep creeping into the film....

2) And speaking of Egerton, thank goodness the film doesn’t shy away from Eggsy’s, well, dickishness.  While he has aspects that are admirable, he’s never too far away from his chaviness right up to the payoff in the, ahem, end.

3) What is up with Samuel L, Jackson’s performance as Valentine?  It seems all mannerisms and quirks, and that lisp he affects bugs me the fuck out.

I've heard of wet dreams before, but this is ridiculous.
4) For a film that wears its love of spy culture on its sleeve, quoting and referencing everything from James Bond to Maxwell Smart to Jason Bourne, its got some sincere disconnects that can be laid at the feet of Millar.  When the good guys gleefully blow up the heads of major world leaders, the feel Vaughn is going for is lost.

5) While I have no problem with the film’s comedic coda given the James Bond formula it’s aping, the thing that makes it not quite work is that there’s a painstakingly created potential love interest in Sophie Cookson’s Roxy.  The script does a lot to forge this bond between the two only to have her discarded towards the finale without any resolution to their arc.

6) One of the spy tropes this film gets a hundred percent right is the henchman, Sofia Boutella’s Gazelle.  Grotesque but graceful and a formidable presence, Boutella gives this film her all, and her presence livens up the proceedings while also giving us a Hell of a ‘final boss’ for Eggsy to fight during the climax.
"I'm gonna introduce you to this chick with a machine
gun for a leg.  You two would get along great!"

7) Given that this is a film based on a Mark Millar comic, it’s excessively violent--so violent it almost doesn’t fit into the superspy movie genre the script gleefully wants to emulate.  Every time a human being gets sliced in half, or we sit through a horrifyingly brutal sequence where Hart slaughters a church full of people gone mad with bloodlust, we’re tossed right out of the spell this film weaves throughout its narrative.

8) I’m not surprised that Michael Caine is cast as Kingsman head Arthur given Caine’s position in the canon of superspy movie culture.  But I was surprised at how Arthur’s story arc ends up--although I shouldn’t have, given Mark Millar’s involvement.

9) Given the nature of the MacGuffin, I have to ask...did somebody watch too much Russell T. Davies era Doctor Who?

10) While I may not appreciate the way the storyline involving Eggsy’s mother was handled, I do appreciate that it is given a payoff in the post-credit sequence.

Overall...A peculiar film that is a very good pastiche of superspy movies, but becomes a mess whenever it hews closely to the Millar original and revels in its low sexuality and high brutality.

I was at the Atlas this time--maybe for the last time, given I’m moving at the end of this month.  Among the trailers were ones for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (which, to my pleasant surprise, is going to be a period piece), Ant-Man (which could have benefitted from not having that goofy comedy sting at the end), and...shudder...Paul Blart Mall Cop 2, which proves than Kevin James can’t be funny in an unfunny Die Hard parody.