KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE¬†is the ultimate fractured fairy tale:¬†A “tour de force” turned “turd de force.” And if you’re¬†recoiling¬†at that turn of phrase- just wait until you get to “the¬†end”¬†of¬†the¬†movie.¬†What begins¬†as a¬†witty,¬†exciting, and inventive¬†update¬†on the iconic James Bond gentleman spy thriller,¬†descends into a crude gore fest that left me cringing in my seat. Keep in mind that English producer/director Matthew Vaughan’s cinematic pedigree includes the movie KICK-ASS.¬†His latest R-rated¬†super-hero¬†fantasy KINGSMAN is a hit with critics and the public and is expected to take in over 100 million dollars at the box office over the next few days.

KINGSMAN stars Colin Firth as a most¬†unlikely superhero– an impeccably tailored¬†and coiffed¬†gent with an umbrella, a chap¬†you might spy having high tea at Claridges.¬†But beneath the surface,¬†he is one of a band of secret agents and hyper-groomed guardians of the international order, a KINGSMAN: a¬†modern day knight for whom a suit¬†of armor is, well,¬†a suit. Thus attired, he wafts through the world in disguise–but thugs, take notice; his manners are¬†part of his arsenal,¬†and that¬†harmless-looking bumbershoot does everything but mix a martini. The Kingsman martini by the way, one ups that¬†of Mr. Bond–it’s¬†not only¬†NOT¬†shaken, but includes merely a “glance at an unopened bottle of vermouth.” Priceless.

The opening action set piece is a hyperkinetic display of delightfully impossible physical prowess and involves a Kingsman named Lancelot who dispatches a room full of villains with nary a hair out of place. The scene culminates in one of the most diabolically devilish demises ever filmed and involves the blade skills of a villainess even more adept at manipulating her prostheses than Oscar Pistorius.

The aforementioned Lancelot, sadly, must be replaced.¬†Thus,¬†Colin Firth as Kingsman Galahad seeks out a streetwise kid (Taron Egerton) who goes by the name of “Eggsy.” After¬†another¬†hilariously¬†inspired round of bad guy-bashing¬†at a local pub, he convinces¬†Eggsy¬†that he has the brains and raw skills to become a KINGSMAN. Let the training commence.

Enter the arch villain whose mad tech skills will allow him to control the world through the use of satellites and sim cards. Samuel L. Jackson plays it with eery evil aplomb, and¬†his signature quirky accoutrement isn’t a pussy cat;¬†it’s an absurd¬†whistling lisp every time he “thspeaks.” The movie¬†hits m0st of its satirical marks, catapulting the original James Bond spy thriller tropes to¬†11– the filmmaker’s stated goal.

Then suddenly and without warning–¬†it all¬†goes horribly awry and the film’s tone and comic aim plummet to minus 12, making it a less than zero sum game for me. About two thirds of the way through, the violence goes from inventive bloodless hi-jinks, to the tasteless high tech lo-jinks of a sick video game massacre in a church. I’m talking vividly colored exploding heads a la Cronenberg’s “SCANNERS,”¬†impalements, gouging, burning, slashing, axing–¬†leaving this viewer despirited and grossed out.¬†Without wanting to spoil the fun, I must tell you that the filmmakers have already done that.

By the very end, some of the¬†heroes are¬†compromised and the¬†last scenes¬†involve the villain vomiting straight into camera and our faces. Then the new Lancelot rescues the imprisoned blonde Princess Tilde–¬†after she promises to have anal sex with him, which she bluntly describes¬†thus:¬†“We can do it in the asshole.” This¬†is eventually followed by¬†a single wide close-up of her readied posterior.¬†Here is director¬†Matthew Vaughan’s response¬†to the complaints from “some bloody feminists”:

‚ÄúIf you‚Äôve noticed, this is my¬†Spinal Tap¬†of trying to find 11 with every scene,‚ÄĚ Vaughn told EW. ‚ÄúWhat happened there was I studied all the old movies, especially the Bond ones. At the end of Moonraker, he‚Äôs floating around in space on Dr. Goodhead, and they say, ‘Bond is attempting re-entry.'”

I get that Vaughan and his co-writers were looking to push and upend the genre–literally, but it appears they are stuck at toilet training and have ultimately aimed their parody at similarly challenged prepubescent boys.¬†The¬†coarseness¬†of the later action and the gags¬†has¬†dulled the humor,¬†is¬†inconsistent with the rest of the film’s tone, and for the record, that last joke in its original incarnation¬†was among the least funny of the Bond¬†oeuvre.¬†I vote for a new ending– one that doesn’t leave me staring at the wrong end of a damsel in distress.

KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE- Stuck At Toilet Training? was last modified: by

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