In the upcoming film Kingsman: The Secret Service, Colin Firth plays a veteran of an independent international intelligence agency.
“The Kingsmen agents,” he says, “are the new knights.” He recruits a rookie (Taron Egerton) into the agency’s training program — “the most dangerous job interview in the world” — just as twisted madman Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), launches a plan to bring down the Kingsmen and cause world chaos.
Echoes of James Bond hang heavy over the story. There are suave spies, a warped villain in the vein of Dr. Julius No or Ernst Blofeld, an evil henchman, or in this case henchlady, named Gazelle (Sofia Boutella) who has knives where other people have feet. Above all, it has gadgets. Firth and his fellow agents — Michael Caine and Mark Strong — have umbrellas that deflect bullets and Zippo lighter hand grenades among other thingamajigs that no spy should leave home without.
Ever since 007 was kitted out with an attaché briefcase equipped with a folding sniper rifle, ammunition, a knife and 50 gold sovereigns in From Russia With Love, gadgets have become de rigueur in spy stories.
From jetpacks to a mobile phone with a stun gun and fingerprint scanner, Bond always had the coolest contraptions. His most famous gadget, the Aston Martin DB5, was introduced 22 minutes into Goldfinger. Bond’s big rig came fortified with machine guns, ejector seats, a back shield, oil slick, rotating licence plates and tire slicers.
The car has appeared in six movies with later models featuring upgrades like a rear facing water canon, a jetpack stowed in the trunk and a cloaking shield.
Bond’s awesome auto has inspired many other souped-up spy-mobiles, including the Pontiac GTO from xXx. Xander Cage’s (Vin Diesel) car came with stinger missiles, parachutes, a flame-thrower and exploding hubcaps.007 and xXx have sweet rides, but the Our Man Flint spy parody had the wildest stuff. Derek Flint’s (James Coburn) watch not only told time but doubled as a microscope and his lighter had “82 different functions,” he said, “83 if you want to light a cigar.”