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Movie Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service -- Bloody Entertaining

02/12/2015 10:47 am ET | Updated Apr 14, 2015

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When James Bond rebooted with Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, the blend of old-school spy tale and modern-action sensibility seemed right -- if still a little restrained.

Imagine now what would happen if James Bond were put in the hands of someone who was willing to not just rethink the secret-agent film but blow it up all together. That person is Matthew Vaughn, who cut his teeth producing the genre-busting British gangster films of Guy Ritchie. With Kingsman: The Secret Service, based on a graphic novel, Vaughn once again finds new ways to deconstruct and reconstruct the spy-thriller.

The conceit here, in a script by Vaughn and Jane Goldman, is that there are the intelligence services of each country, and then there are the Kingsmen, a private secret service in London that has no political strings to keep them from doing the right thing. While the idea of a private intelligence agency might rouse thoughts of secret police and the curtailment of liberties, these are pointedly good guys, modeling their selfless service on the knights of King Arthur.

The coolest of these cats is Harry Hart (Colin Firth), whose code name is Galahad. Through a series of early plot points, he winds up as mentor to an aspiring young hoodlum with the unfortunately comic-booky name of Eggsy (newcomer Taron Egerton), who is recruited to undergo Kingsman training.

What they're up against is a mad billionaire with a lisp, played by a jubilant Samuel L. Jackson. He's out to save the Earth by thinning the herd, as it were; if the planet is a living organism, he reasons, then man is the virus that is killing the planet. So why not come up with a way to reduce the population in one easy step?

This review continues on my website.