Friday, February 20, 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service

Eggsy (Taron Egerton) grows up without a father, not knowing that the untimely death would be his ticket 17 years later to an elite secret intelligence agency called the Kingsman. Recruitment is highly competitive and only happens when one of the agents is killed and needs to be replaced. Eggsy is scouted by Harry Hart (Colin Firth) as an act of gratitude for the fallen comrade who saved his life and three others in a failed mission almost two decades ago. His protégé meets another half a dozen or so recruits all vying for that sole spot among the veteran Kingsman agents. Meanwhile, American billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) plans a technologically induced genocide that would heal the planet of the virus that is killing it: human beings. It is up to the Kingsman and their new recruit to make sure that such plan does not come to fruition.

This movie is simply enjoyable and proves to be one hell of a visual treat for those looking for some hardcore action in the same vein as 007. Leave it to the British to come up with something that effectively marries action and technology to give birth to a cinematic experience that you would be raving about in the next few days or so. The director seems to have a clear vision of what outcome he has in mind, and the end product is kickass, for lack of better term.

First of all, the landscape shots are plenty: from snow-laden Argentine hills to humid Middle Eastern deserts, all of which are shot in vivid color that really grabs your attention. They go all out in this regard, as if flaunting the big budget they have received from their producers, not that we are complaining, though. Of course, when the agents are not on a mission they usually conduct their business indoors where the costume and interior design come into play, complementing each other with all the class and finesse the British could offer. You have to give it to them, seeing agents in crisp tailored suits while trying to immobilize another human being is just the epitome of awesome.

The gadgets they use for their missions also share the limelight: bulletproof umbrellas with incredible gun power, Oxfords with built-in poison-laced blades, lighter hand grenades, etc. Name it, they got it, and they use it in style. Remember how most movies nowadays would only use such toys for display, and then rely on shaky camera movement as a not so convincing excuse for fight choreography? That does not happen in Kingsman. In fact, the fight scenes here are so polished. The actors' movements are not restricted and their efforts to make everything look cool are rewarded with additional camera effects speeding up such sequences. Fight scenes have never looked this wicked since The Matrix.

The thing about this film is that it also relies on formula as far as plot development is concerned. You have the underdog who finds out that he can be more than what he thinks he could be after being taken under the wing of a more experienced mentor who has unwavering belief in him. You know the drill, more or less, because divulging more details would be tantamount to giving spoilers. In any case, the plot unfolds the same way, but the film succeeds in making you believe that such predictability is not going to play a part in the development of the story until they suddenly drop it on your face without warning. If you could take on a cliché formula like that but still leave the audience in awe with your execution, then you would know that you have made a pretty good movie.

It also helps that the characters themselves are interesting. Here we see Firth kicking ass instead of being the prim and proper Shakespearean stereotype he always portrays. Samuel L. Jackson and his lisp are a joy to watch as part and parcel of a villain who is sinister not because he is scary but because he is plain wacko. The girl with the bladed prosthetic legs tends to steal most of the scenes she is in thanks to her mere badassery. Remember Gogo Yubari from Kill Bill and Zhang Zi Yi’s Hu Li in Rush Hour 2? Gazelle is like those two combined. As for Egerton, his prize here is the career breakthrough he is given, although it is understandable that he would disappear in the background once in a while every time he is with Firth or Michael Caine.

For the adrenaline rush alone, this film is worth the admission ticket. This is the kind of film that you could watch over and over again because of the fun viewing experience that it offers, perhaps even more so in 3D!

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