Like a violent “My Fair Lady,” “Kingsman: The Secret Service” takes a guy from the wrong side of the tracks and transforms him into a Kingsman Tailor. They are a super spy organization with manners that would make Henry Higgins proud and gadgets that James Bond would envy.
Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is a Kingman, codename Galahad. He’s a dapper Dan and a dangerous man who takes rebellious teenager Eggsy (Taron Egerton) under his wing, in part to repay a debt owed to the boy’s father, in part to groom him to join the organization.
The Kingsman are the modern day knights; their finely tailored suits are their armour. If Eggsy makes it through “the most dangerous job interview in the world” he will adopt the name Lancelot and take his place in a glamorous and dangerous 007ish world of intrigue.
While Eggsy is in training Galahad is investigating the interesting case of internet billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson)—imagine a more malevolent Bill Gates or Steve Jobs with aspirations of world domination… oh wait….—and his evil plot to save the world by destroying it and starting again.
At one point Galahad says, “Give me a farfetched theatrical plot any day,” and director Matthew “Kick-Ass” Vaughn grants that wish. Working from a 2012 spy comic book series written by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, the director has embraced the story’s absurdity, delivering a demented movie that is at once an homage to James Bond and his ilk and a satire of spy movies.
Then idea of the gentleman spy is played out to the nth degree—a proper Kingsman even has his own martini, gin, stirred for ten seconds while glancing at an unopened bottle of vermouth—but this isn’t a genteel movie. Ultraviolent—one frenetic fight scene makes the shooting, stabbing, punching and impaling of the bloody “Walking Dead” look like “My Fair Lady”—and raunchy—a smirky sex joke at the end would make even James Bond raise an eyebrow—“Kingsman: The Secret Service” pushes the limits, and is as extreme as it is entertaining.
Vaughn clearly has franchise hopes here and lays a good foundation despite some lapses in taste, but it is difficult to see how much more he can push the envelope before even the not-easily-shocked Galahad might think it was too farfetched.