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Article by Teddy Durgin

The secret is out - 'Kingsman' is not a fun movie

I must be slipping a bit in my... ahem... middle age. It never occurred me to that the new action spy caper "Kingsman: The Secret Service" was NOT a PG-13 movie. All of the trailers and commercials made it look like a fun, jokey, campy action spoof. There was the young man being recruited into a top secret government agency a la "Men in Black." There were the kooky gadgets - poison pens, bulletproof sports coats, cigarette lighters that double as hand grenades - a la the classic days of Q and 007. And there was Samuel L. Jackson playing Valentine, a crazed billionaire megalomaniac with a silly speech impediment. Well, the flick is actually rated R - a hard R, in fact - as I came to understand within the first 10 minutes of its running time. The flick establishes early on that it's gonna be over-the-top gleefully violent, with dozens of heads exploding, people being cut in half and Colin Firth (who hasn't slipped one bit in his middle age) doing his best Neo impersonation from "The Matrix" in fight after fight. Somehow, though, director and co-screenwriter Matthew Vaughn takes the graphic violence, the familiar plotting and the crazy gadgets, mashes them all up in a blender and pours a deliriously fun concoction. Firth stars as Henry, a veteran Kingsman agent who takes the young Eggsy (Taron Egerton) under his wing when a spot opens up in his spy organization. Eggsy is a young 20-something who has loads of potential, but has so far squandered his gifts and intelligence. However, his street smarts prove handy when going up against a bunch of rival candidates who mostly hail from wealth, privilege, the best families, the best universities, etc. Egerton is a major find here and more than holds his own with the likes of Firth, Samuel L. and Michael Caine. "Kingsman: The Secret Service" also has a lot of fun acknowledging its inspirations, even commenting on them directly, but somehow manages to establish its own style and chart its own singular path. Just when you think the film is drifting too far into parody and silliness - BAM! - it hits you with a straight-up action sequence such as a truly amazing aerial dive or a pub brawl in which Firth takes on a roomful of bullies and barely musses his hair. But then just as the film starts to become brutally serious, delving into Eggsy's troubled home life or mourning the sudden loss of a valuable team member, it pulls off a sublime bit of humor like the meal Valentine serves Harry when entertaining him at his mansion. It might be the best use of on-screen product placement in months. And Firth's exit line is perfect. I have to admit, as much as I recognize the Daniel Craig James Bond films as among the best films of their respective years ("Casino Royale" and "Skyfall" at least) and the Pierce Brosnan 007 films for taking the franchise to mega-blockbuster heights for the first time in its history, I'm sorry. As a Gen-X'er, I cut my teeth on the Roger Moore Bonds. I know they're junk. But "The Spy Who Loved Me" and "Moonraker" were deliriously fun junk. The former had James Bond tangling with a megalomaniac who wanted to wipe out Earth's population and re-start the planet from under the sea, while the latter had 007 trying to stop a megalomaniac bent on wiping out Earth's population and re-starting the world from orbit. "Kingsman" is a loving homage to those films specifically. If you don't take it seriously for one instant and don't mind the hard-R content, you'll have a blast. Its pleasures are many, ranging from Mark Hamill cameo-ing as a kidnapped science professor to some funny and clever references to past films like "Trading Places" and "My Fair Lady." You'll get your money's worth. And afterward, you may want to dress better, speak better and even drink better.

"Kingsman: The Secret Service" is rated R for action, language and some sexual content.


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