“Kingsman: The Secret Service” (2015)

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★★★★☆

The first good movie of 2015. It’s a familiar premise: a secret society of undercover operatives, working for King and Country, taking on the worlds problems, with class and style. And then there’s the familiar “rough and tumble young recruit” angle. Yes, it’s been done before. But it’s been a long while since it’s been done with the level of class and style of “Kingsman.”

Let’s start with the cast. Colin Firth is impeccable as the lead agent who is training the new recruits. He’s posh, dignified, and completely lethal. I loved Connery’s “James Bond” but Firth has a seriousness to his spy character whereas Connery was somewhat more cheeky.

Michael Caine is the leader of The Kingsman. Say no more. Samuel L. Jackson is the evil mastermind bad guy. He plays a cross between Elon Musk and Kanye West and he has a diabolical plan to unleash on the planet.

Veteran character actor Mark Strong is second in command and as usual delivers. He was also in “Kick Ass” which Kingsman Writer/Director Matthew Vaughn also created. Mark Hammill has a couple of brief performances, see if you can spot him. Sofia Boutella is Jackson’s valet/assassin, Gazelle. A professional dancer, she carries out her duties with a lot of panache. Her character has prosthetics below the knee – equipped with knife blades, of course – which makes her fight scenes pretty interesting.

The lead – the kid being turned into an agent – is played by Welsh newcomer Taron Egerton. He does a solid job and is convincing enough in the stunt work. He doesn’t overplay the “down on his luck kid” angle too much, so he really keeps his own identity as a character.

The fight scenes are wild. The members of the Kingsman fight and kill with utmost precision and efficiency. There’s no wasted motion. It’s not the bravado-filled stuff American audiences are used to, but it’s awesomely choreographed. The number of people offed per minute is staggering.

There’s the expected dry British humor throughout. Which may not appeal to everyone, but I like it. Jackson is completely over-the-top, but really they could have gone further with his character I felt. And then there’s the “let’s detonate the implants” scene. You’ll know it when you see it. The cast of Monty Python would be proud because this scene had to have been inspired by one of their sketches.

All in all this is a great, albeit subdued at times, action-comedy spy movie. It has real style, a great cast, and it’s superbly put together. The violence, when it happens, is pretty harsh. So if you’re looking for the “old style Bond movie” where killing is done more in the abstract, this one will put you off your crumpets.

And, as I just mentioned, there are parts of this movie where it’s more subdued. Getting to know the characters. Letting the actors do their thing and pull you into their world. This isn’t a Rambo flick, they take their time. If you get bored if there isn’t a car chase or gun going off every five minutes, you may find Kingsman a bit slow.

But overall I really enjoyed this movie. Definitely worth checking out.