Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Kingsman: The Secret Service is based on the comic book The Secret Service written by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.

The movie starts off with an undercover mission in some Middle eastern country, Harry Hart, a.k.a. “Galahad“‘s (Colin Firth) mistake puts the life of entire team at risk. A probationary agent sacrifices himself to save his team. Riddled by guilt Galahad personally delivers a bravery medal to the agent’s widow and his young son, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin. The protocols don’t allow Galahad to explain the event which led to the death of the agents, so Galahad offers a favor that if they ever need help, they should call the phone number on the back of the medal and deliver a coded message.

Seventeen years later, Professor James Arnold (Mark Hamill) is kidnapped by unknown assailants, led by billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) and his henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), a amputee with bladed prosthetic legs. One of Galahad’s colleague, “Lancelot” attempts to stage a rescue, but he is murdered by Gazelle.

Back in London Eggsy(Taron Egerton) has grown up to be unemployed young adult living with his mother, infant half-sister and an abusive stepfather. After being arrested for stealing a car and facing a jail term of 18 months, Eggsy calls the number on the back of the medal to claim the favor. Not knowing what would happen, Eggsy is surprised when he is released from prison.

With the death of Lancelot, the agency has a vacancy, based on tradition the current members have to recommend one candidate each. Galahad tries to convince Eggsy to be his candidate but Eggsy refuses the offer and returns home only to be abused by his stepfather. Galahad rescues Eggsy and Eggsy decides to apply for the post left vacant by Lancelot. He joins a group of other candidates who were nominated by other officers of Kingsman. Eggsy quickly befriends Roxy (Sophie Cookson). Their training is supervised by Merlin (Mark Strong), a kingsman.

Meanwhile Arthur (Michael Caine) hands over Lancelot’s mission assigned to Galahad. While Galahad investigates the case, the newly recruited trainees vie for the spot left behind by Lancelot.

What works out right:
Right from the moment I heard Dire Straits song Money for Nothing (which is at the beginning) till the end, the movie is fast paced. It has right mixture of action, comedy, gadgets and emotions. Kingsman: The Secret Service pays a tongue in check homage to lots of movie. Based on the movies I could recognize there were homages to James Bond movies, Star Trek, The Recruit and Dog Soldiers.

Acting wise Colin Firth as Harry Hart/Galahad and Samuel L. Jackson as Richmond Valentine, a billionaire philanthropist who speaks with a lisp and has a weak stomach for blood and violence steal the job. Taron Egerton as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin and Mark Strong as Merlin are steady. Michael Caine as King/Arthur and Sophie Cookson as Roxy don’t have much to do, but it was nice to see Michael Caine try something different.

The action scenes are pretty interested, some times they are fast and some times the scenes are slow giving user a detailed look at the action. This blending of fast and slow fights really adds value to the movie. Most of the funny moments in the movie had people laughing and there were even people clapping for few of the dialogues.

All in all, Kingsman: The Secret Service will end up being one of the must watch movies of┬áthis year. I am also pretty sure it will remain in the list of “Highest-grossing films of 2015“. There is a hint in the movie that there could be sequels. I have my finger crossed and am hoping for a sequel.


The Dark Knight Rises

High expectation” two words to define The Dark Knight Rises. Three hasn’t been a lucky number for lots of movie franchises.

The Dark Knight Rises

Take for example Alien 3 (4 was even worse), Spider-Man 3, The Matrix Revolutions. But there are exceptions to the rule The Lord of the Rings: Return of the king, Ice Age 3, Back to the Future Part III. I expect The Dark Knight Rises to follow the latter and not the former.

Not much is known about the movie. But there are rumours that the play boy Millionaire (later Billionaire) Bruce Wayne is going to find a new love interest and this movie will introduce Bane and Catwoman. Once again Chris Nolan has assembled a strong cast. There is no need to mention anything about the acting prowess of Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman all seasoned actors. If you have seen this trailer you would realize that there will be massive mayhem in Gotham City.

Will it match the heights of The Dark Knight?
I hope so and I have my fingers crossed. There was a point in The Dark Knight were I started to feel that the mayhem unleashed by the Joker will never end and that is a kind of feeling you will rarely feel in a movie these days. Every time I watch The Dark Knight I remember it. So in a way The Dark Knight Rises has a huge challenge in front of it.

New characters added to the cast are

Marion Cotillard of Inception fame as Miranda Tate
Joseph Gordon-Levitt of Inception fame as John Blake
Cillian Murphy of Inception (28 days later) fame as Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow
Tom Hardy of Inception (Warrior) fame as Bane
Liam Neeson as Ra’s al Ghul.
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle

I have put Inception next to the names for the actors to re-emphasize the fact that Chris Nolan re-works with stars. Most of these actors have done well in the past.

The Dark Knight series have had strong negative characters Ra’s al Ghul, Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow and Carmine Falcone in Batman Begins, Joker and Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight and Selina Kyle, Ra’s al Ghul (hoping it’s not a guest appearance) and Bane in The Dark Knight Rises. There are two characters I am most interested in. One is Ra’s al Ghul and the other is Bane.

Ra’s al Ghul
Liam Neeson has an amazing screen presence. He is able put life into characters and movies that are not that well written and make them watchable. Unknown and Taken would have bombed (flopped) at the box without Liam Neeson, he simply elevates the movies and the characters he plays. It would be fun to see him as Ra’s al Ghul again. I didn’t have any negative emotions (that I normally have for negative characters) for his portrait of Ra’s al Ghul, he simply came across as a natural person. A man taking revenge for loss of his family.

The role of Bane is played by Tom Hardy, those of you who have seen Warrior (I have seen) would agree that Tom Hardy looked natural playing the role of Tommy Conlon. Tom Hardy played a role of former U.S. Marine who is angry with his family in the movie Warrior. It would be interesting to see what he does with Bane. I am looking for lots of intensity from him. It could be his big break. Not sure whether he needs it after Inception and Warrior.

No Batman movie discussion will be complete without Heath Ledger’s Joker. Sadly we wouldn’t see Heath Ledger’s Joker in the final installation of the series. I hope the movie has some kind of homage to Joker and Heath Ledger because without Heath, Joker wouldn’t be as menacing as in The Dark Knight and without Joker The Dark Knight wouldn’t have been The Dark Knight.

For one thing this movie is going to be a sure shot hit. Unfortunately I won’t be able to watch the movie in its first week of release. Hopefully I will be able to watch it in the second week!

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