Sunday, February 15, 2015
"Kingsman: The Secret Service": Be wary of what in life is "free", it can winnow the population of the Earth (as villain wants to hack human brains through cell phones)
“Kingsman: The Secret Service”, directed by Matthew Vaughn, is based on the comic book “The Secret Service” by David Millar and Dave Gibbons. It is also a juicy satire on both megalomania and meritocracy, and a spoof on the James Bond films.
The “Service” (in London) is trying to solve the abductions of various celebrities and royalties – perhaps a conceivable plot given the times. It has lost its valued agent Lancelot (Jack Davenport) and puts a number of youth through a competitive training program in a dorm right on the grounds (recalling “Ender’s Game”, Nov. 2, 2013). The headmaster Merlin (Mark Strong) treats them all badly, and finally the last three candidates are Gary “Eggsy”, a short working-class youth of the Harry Potter type (Taron Egerton), a taller more obviously charismatic guy (Edward Holcroft) and a girl (Sophie Cookson). One of the points is that a more homely kid turns out to be the hero.
The arch-villain is Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), who has a Hitler-like plan to save the world from global warming, which he calls a “fever”, with an exploding population of people the “viruses”. The arranges them all to get free Internet with a Sim card giveaway (here we go, with the “Reid.ing” “It’s Free” shorts, May 13, 2013). But the Sim cards are programmed to interact with the neurological circuits in their brains and get them to turn on one another. As a demo, Valentine arranges for all the members of a “hatemongering” fundamentalist church in Kentucky kill each other in a service when triggered (and it’s pretty obvious the film wants the viewer to think about the anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church, which is in Kansas, however). But the trigger comes from “Galahad” (Colin Firth). Michael Caine has a grandfatherly role in the film recalling some of his roles in the 60s.
The people who are supposed to survive his arranged Armageddon all have neck implants. The climax of the movie offers a wonder spectacle of all the “SS” at a party, with Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance music, with their heads exploding to the movie when Eggsy hacks his system in the film’s convoluted but spectacular climax. The film offers both skydiving and hot-air ballooning, of sorts (rather borrowed from Roswell), both activities having been offered at one time in the DC area by the LGBT outdoor “Adventuring” group. You had to take lessons before you could do a real jump.
Eggsy gets treated to a whole world of devices (remember “Q” from the Bond movies), all hidden away in carefully tailored suits (indeed in 50 shades of gray). All the candidates get a dog to train, and Eggsy’s provides a pivotal plot point and moral test. Unlike other movies, all the male post-teen candidates got to have chest hair.
The 125 minute film really gathers momentum, after a somewhat unremarkable beginning (the CGI of the Andes and also of the Middle Eastern desert looks cartoonish). There is one mention of stopping a dirty bomb plot, which could really happen.
There is discussion on the politics of the film. In general, conservatives (of The Washington Times ilk) are probably going to like this “comedy”. No wonder, it comes from Fox. The film does make a statement of how easily we (the supposed “liberals”) can slip into “master race” thinking without seeing where we are going.
The film was filmed in London at Warner Brothers and Pinewood, but belongs to Fox and is released on the major 20th Century Fox label.
I saw it in a large Regal Ballston auditorium late Sunday on a cold day before a fair audience.