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Kingsman: The Secret Service

These spies could use some sensitivity training

Dapper and deadly. Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is the ultimate gentleman spy, part of a super-secret organization that recruits an unrefined but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius. <<© 20th Century Fox >>

There aren’t many gentlemen in Eggsy’s world (Taron Egerton: The Smoke). His stepfather is an abusive criminal, his friends are petty thieves and his mother refuses to let him leave home. When a stolen car and a high-speed chase through London land Eggsy behind bars, the outlook is bleak, until Harry Hart (Colin Firth: Before I Go to Sleep) shows up.
    Hart has the pull to get Eggsy sprung and charges his dropped. Hart, it seems, has always felt the need to repay Eggsy’s father for saving his life. He also offers Eggsy the chance of a lifetime: training to join the secret Kingsman gentlemen spies.
    Kingsman enjoy the freedom of independence. The only mission is to do good throughout the world. Named for one of King Arthur’s knights, each spy is a highly trained killing machine with impeccable outfits and outlandish gadgets.
    Eggsy joins a group of elite teens hoping to earn spots at the Kingsman’s table. While he trains, a media mogul known as Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson: Kite) is planning a nefarious new world order with the help of his henchwoman Gazelle (Sofia Boutella: Monsters: Dark Continent).
    A throwback to the James Bond-era of drinks, sexism, ridiculous violence and punn-ish jokes, Kingsman: The Secret Service could have been a fabulous over-the-top action romp along the lines of John Wick. It has all the elements: silly accents (from Jackson and Mark Hamill), thrillingly gory fight scenes and a charming cast. Director Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class) is a deft hand at action, crafting fast-paced battles that are bloody, brutal yet beautiful. A musical sequence featuring exploding heads manages to be a hilarious tribute to ­Michelangelo Antonioni’s Zabriskie Point.
    As the bespoke spy whose impeccable manners make James Bond look like a back room brawler, Colin Firth exudes unflappable charm. He also convincingly sheds his posh exterior for a couple of fight sequences that highlight his physicality. As the successor to Hart, Eggerton is a talented new discovery with plenty of charm. His crooked smile and bravado help ease awkward dialog and scenes.
    With a talented cast, great action and a fun concept, what could go wrong? As it turns out, not much. Kingsman was well on its way to earning a place in the pantheon of action greats. Until its final 10 minutes.
    A running gag in the final moments is so vile and sexist that it nearly spoils the movie. Too crude to repeat in a family-friendly paper, the joke would have been at home in a Seth MacFarlane movie. It’s made worse by Vaughn’s dedication of the film to his mother.
    Too bad this fun and fast-paced thriller about gentlemen spies ends on a decidedly ungentlemanly note.

Great Action/Gross Humor • R • 129 mins.