What would happen if James Bond had a grandson who wanted to follow in his specially equipped shoes?
I think we find out with Kingsmen: The Secret Service.
And this action-adventure-comedy written by Jane Goldman and directed by Matthew Vaughan satisfyingly scratched my 007 itch by covering all three of those bases. The story, adapted from a 2012 comic book series by Mark Millar and Gibbons, is stocked with plenty of action, heaps of adventure and 25 shades of comedy.
At an early Friday matinee, I certainly was glad — as it appeared were the couple dozen other movie-goers of different generations, genders and races — that this secret agent flick offered a top-shelf alternative to that sex-and-society-pushing movie adapted from a novel that caught the fancy of women readers and has tied up media focus this opening weekend.
The plot: British operative Harry Hart, or Galahad if you prefer, promises a widow and her young son that he’s at their service because it was his error that caused the death of her husband and his father in the final stage of his training. Veteran Colin Forth, looking about the same age to me as he did in a fave romance comedy of mine, 2003’s Love Actually wonder of wonders, is cool as beans as the guy who can talk with aristocrats, scheme with geniuses and fight with martial arts masters.
Down the line, young adult Eggsy makes that call after falling into poor Brit unrest, trouble with his stepfather and his seedy friends and worse problems with the law because of his spirit and rebelliousness. Taron Egerton gives the right mix of cocky fight and intelligent light in his eyes as he and Galahad and the rest of the young trainees bond during their training experience, which also is a battle to become the one and only next agent to replace the fallen Lancelot.
The cast, in fact, is all well placed. There’s the wily but resigned veteran operative played by Michael Caine and his wise and reserved underling portrayed by Mark Strong. There’s the energetic and earnest training female colleague played by Sophie Cookson. And, quite wonderfully, there’s the lisping evil genius villain handed with open arms and flat-brimmed red hat by Samuel L. Jackson and his leaping, razor-footed assistant taken on by dancer Sofia Boutella.
All have chemistry as the story careens from cool to very cool to extremely cutting edge.
Vaughan directs it with big, colorful, technologically catchy scenes that give wonderful nods in dialogue to classic spy movies of the past and delivers whiz-bang effects that will keep today’s generation quite happy. And, oh, yeah, there’s a racy scene toward the end that earns that R rating, but it’s handled with a wink-wink style and accomplished more with words and body language than body parts.
Best of many worlds. And good enough to earn almost half on opening weekend of that tongue-wagging other movie. I think it’ll have legs this weekend and beyond, too, as smart and adventurous movies often do.
Mark Bialczak is a veteran journalist who has lived in the Syracuse area since 1983. In early 2013, he was set free to write about whatever he wants. Click here to read Mark’s BLOG.