Sunday, 7 June 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)

Ah the term 'loosely based', it crops up so often these days, and here we are again, another movie loosely based on a comicbook of the same name (almost, the comic is not called Kingsman, so I wonder where they got that). The films title explains it all really, yes its another action spy thriller and yes that means all the same spiel we've seen over and over and over again, oh and its a British concoction, so zero originality then.

The story follows a young unemployed London chav by the name of Eggsy. I later learned the the actors real name is Egerton so has Vaughn merely allowed him to use his real life nickname? This young man's father was a Kingsman super spy killed in service saving his colleagues lives, so along comes Harry Hart (Colin Firth) to take Eggsy under his wing. What follows is the training process Eggsy goes under to try and achieve this super spy status, whilst at the same time a crazy billionaire is trying to eradicate or cull the human race. Its amazing how many billionaires are crazy people wanting to take over the world, never see any poor crazy people wanting to take over the world. I might also add this movie is a complete U-turn on its comicbook origins, hence that famous term 'loosely based'.

So the first half of the movie centres on Eggsy going through a rigorous training program to ascertain whether he has the right stuff. He is up against a small group of other youths who are all upper class types (for predictable comic relief of course) in an overly cliched load of sequences we've seen before in movies like 'Ender's Game'. Now I won't deny these sequences are by far the most interesting and enjoyable of the movie, I guess its morbid curiosity to watch these youths fight amongst themselves in deadly situations, even though we all know Eggsy will never die and will of course end up a Kingsman. Much like the entire film these sequences are completely outrageous. Example, they are all asleep in their dorm when the entire room quickly fills with water and they have to work out how not to drown. I'm pretty sure most people would have died here and it is quite laughable how long Eggsy seems to be able to hold his breath.

The same can be said for the weaponry and gadget sequences, we see a whole room full of various super spy gizmos that appear normal but are of course lethal. Its all of course a complete rip-off from the Bond universe yet it doesn't shy away from that, Vaughn knows what he's doing as do we, so you don't take it seriously. At the same time it was hard to fully engage myself in said scenes because everything I was seeing was so unoriginal and cliched its painful. Deadly pens, knife-tipped shoes, cigarette lighter grenades, electric shock inducing rings, bulletproof umbrellas with X-ray-esque vision etc...its fun but kinda boring too. On the other hand I did like the special glasses that enabled the user to see special holograms/information that couldn't be seen with the naked eye. The Kingsman board meeting was a clever little trick, apparently no one at the table, put on the special specs and there is actually a full table of holographic Kingsman elite.

Even though the movie is all about spy stuff its more about the quirky characters, more importantly, can it produce good quirky characters. Well yes and no, Colin Firth is easily the best character here simply because you can't picture Colin Firth in this kind of role as a super ass-kicking spy. So straight away he's a breath of fresh air to this genre, but naturally his traditional British public schoolboy looks, manner and speech all fit the bill perfectly. I'm still not overly sure how much of the fighting was actually Firth. As for new boy Egerton, well I'm not sure. I've seen and heard him in interviews and the guy is well spoken, so why on earth Vaughn had him speak and act like a chav with that dreadfully common street dialect and accent that certain youths in London use is beyond me. Straight away I didn't like the character, I hate listening to that speech pattern and the type of chavy people that force it when they don't actually speak that way (I had the same issue with UK film 'Attack the Block'). Oh and he's really buffed up too...because, like, everyone is always buffed up.

On the flip side it was nice to actually see Mark Strong not speak with a cockney accent for once, also nice to see him play a good guy too. His Scottish character was the Kingsman trainer or quartermaster if you will, his role builds in the background and ends up being in the forefront of the action. Twas surprising actually because you'd have put money on Strong's character being a twist in the plot. Personally I just wish Vaughn would break away from his cockney obsession (ditto Guy Ritchie), that whole thing has been done now, move on. I could say the same thing about using Michael Caine here.

As for the villain...*sigh!* its Samuel L. Jackson again folks, I'm sure you know. I'm sorry but I will not sugarcoat this, this man is a bland actor, he does the same shit in virtually everything he does, but because he has this 'cult cool' aura about him (thank you Tarantino), he keeps getting work. It was plainly clear to me Jackson was miscast here by a good country mile, he just didn't fit at all. Not only was he not threatening, he wasn't interesting, funny or diabolical in any real way. All they could come up with for this guy was giving him silly coloured baseball caps and a lisp...really? Way to earn that paycheck dude, this man is laughing all the way to the bank, for doing nothing.

I realise the film is suppose to be a parody of sorts, its playing on the old Bond themes with reckless brutality (they even poke fun at a few spy franchises and movies in general in the dialog), extreme amounts of blood and gore and insanely over the top sequences of action, but we've seen this all before!! What's even worse with this movie is the fact the CGI and greenscreen is clearly evident throughout, which in turn makes these action sequences look awfully hokey. Add to that copious amounts of slow motion and spinning camera angles all bathed in a slick shiny gloss that makes everything look, for lack of a better word, plastic.

I mean, yeah, I get it, a henchwoman with blades for legs, got it...errr...brilliant. She kills everyone with ease yet can't kill Eggsy at the end without having some ridiculously overlong needless 'Revenge of the Sith'-like battle. The vast amount of colour coordinated gun totting henchmen that literately miss at point blank range, and I mean point blank! its like how the fuck are you not killing Eggsy right now!! The film eventually seems to morph into this cheesyass, corny Austin Powers clone, but with violence instead of cheeky smut. Again, I get its suppose to be like this, I get its not to be taken seriously as an action movie, I hear that, but all I see is yet another simple rehash of ideas from various classic spy franchises. Simply being self aware, or a self aware movie, doesn't automatically grant it a pass for baloney, doesn't matter how old school.

I enjoyed the start of the movie, I liked the atmosphere, the Kingsman storefront and interior, the posh olde worlde wood paneled offices with dated antiquities within. I liked the training sequences, the other characters Eggsy was up against and I liked Firth's character. Once away from the training sections, the latter half of the movie I thought was just trashy and stupid with a poor villain, it didn't engage me at all. I am still wondering how this movie managed to become so popular, I think other countries go all gooey over British accents.