In the movies The Kingsmen are a secret spy organization whose members have manners that would make Henry Higgins proud and gadgets that James Bond would envy. They’ve been the subject of two movies, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” and now, three movies into director Matthew Vaughn’s spy franchise comes an origin story that takes us back to the early part of the 20th century and the confusing beginnings of these modern-day knights.
“The King’s Man,” now playing in theatres, begins with a tragedy that makes the wealthy and powerful Duke of Oxford (Ralph Fiennes) reject the Colonialism and violence that is the bedrock of his family’s fortune. He questions why he was killing people who were trying to protect their own land. “With every man I killed,” he said, “I killed a piece of myself.”
Meanwhile, as World War I approaches, an assembly of the world’s most despicable tyrants and villains, working for an evil mastermind with plans for world domination, are hatching a plan that could lead to genocide.
With the lives of millions at stake, and his son Conrad (Harris Dickinson) off to war, the Duke realizes he can’t rely on politicians to do the right thing. In an effort to save the world, he abandons his pacifist ways. With the help of his most trusted colleagues, swordsman Shola (Djimon Hounsou) and sharp shooter Polly (Gemma Arterton), he goes into the fray and sews the seeds for the formation of The Kingsmen, an organization that uses violence to attain peace.
The first two Kingsmen movies were overstuffed, but had a certain lightness of touch. Unfortunately, “The King’s Man” lands with a thud. A mix of fact (well, almost true stuff) and fiction—real life characters like Rasputin, the mad Russian monk (Rhys Ifans) are woven into the fanciful story—the movie is all over the place. It’s a spy story, a tale of duty, a slapstick comedy, an action film, a fractured fairy tale of world events.
Some of the action scenes are quite fun and Ifans eats so much scenery it feels like he’ll never go hungry again, but the story takes far too long to get going.
“The King’s Man” feels as though it is splintering off in all directions, like it’s three movies spliced-and-diced into one, bloated, messy sequel-ready story.
A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at Billie Jean King and retired pro Bobby Riggs in “Battle of the Sexes,” Taron Egerton’s stylish spy thriller “Kingsman: the Secret Circle” and the Jake Gyllenhaal real life drama “Stronger.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at about Billie Jean King and retired pro Bobby Riggs in “Battle of the Sexes,” Taron Egerton’s stylish spy thriller “Kingsman: the Secret Circle” and the Jake Gyllenhaal real life drama “Stronger.”
Royal Academy of Dramatic Art trained actor Taron Egerton is best known as Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin, the rebellious teenager turned super spy of Kingsman: The Secret Service.
That film plays like a violent My Fair Lady, taking a guy from the wrong side of the tracks and transforming him into a Kingsman Tailor, a super spy with manners that would make Henry Higgins proud and gadgets that James Bond would envy.
The Kingsman Tailors are the modern day knights; their finely tailored suits their armour. In the first movie Eggsy made it through “the most dangerous job interview in the world.” This weekend he returns to the glamorous and dangerous 007ish world of intrigue in a sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
It may be the role that made him a star, but don’t expect Egerton to revisit Eggsy time-after-time. “I’m trying to play parts which are a little more out there,” he says, “but I want variety.”
His IMDB page reveals the width and breadth of the variety he seeks in his movie career. From Legend’s psychopathic English gangster “Mad” Teddy Smith and Johnny, the soulful singing gorilla of Sing to American Ponzi schemer Dean Karny in the upcoming Billionaire Boy’s Club and the title role in Robin Hood, it’s obvious he’s trying to shake things up.
“I want to have fun,” he says. “I’m not interested in being a serious actor, because I think it’s boring, and I think we’ve got plenty of them.”
Here are a couple of his performances you may have missed that showcase what a serious actor he really is.
In Testament of Youth he co-stars opposite Alicia Vikander in a retelling of the classic World War I memoir by Vera Brittain. She plays Brittain, a tenacious young woman whose schooling is interrupted when WWI breaks out and brother Edward (Egerton), her fiancé Roland (Kit Game of Thrones Harington) and friends Victor (Colin Morgan) and Geoffrey (Jonathan Bailey) are sent to fight at the front lines. Vera opts to join them, leaving school to enrol as a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment.
Egerton‘s role is small but important. As Edward he convinces their father to allow Vera to sit for the entrance exam and later, when he is killed on the Italian Front, his passing teaches his sister about personal loss and the futility of war. It’s a sensitive and spirited performance that showcases his on screen charisma.
Egerton is looser-limbed as the title character in Eddie the Eagle. He plays the English skier whose ambitions to compete in the Olympics made him a worldwide star. Like his character, the film sets its sights high. It’s not content to simply be a feel good film, it’s aspiring to be a feel GREAT movie.
Egerton, hams it up, handing in a performance that makes Benny Hill look nuanced. With thick, ill-fitting glasses, he’s all doe eyes and determination, a stiff-upper-lipper who wants to be part of the Olympics to prove everyone who told him he wasn’t good enough wrong. It’s an underdog story of such epic proportions it makes The Bad News Bears and all other underdogs look jaded by comparison.
“I don’t want to look back at my career and see a string of incredibly commercial projects that don’t have much heart,” he says. “I’m looking for things that have soul.”
The first “Kingsman” movie, “The Secret Service,” was like a violent “Pygmalion,” taking a guy from the wrong side of the tracks and transforming him into a Kingsman Tailor, a super spy with manners that would make Henry Higgins proud and gadgets that James Bond would envy.
The Kingsman Tailors are the modern day knights; their finely tailored suits their armour. In the first movie rebellious teenager turned super spy Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) made it through “the most dangerous job interview in the world” to earn a place in the exclusive group. This weekend he returns to the glamorous and treacherous 007ish world of intrigue in a sequel, “The Golden Circle.”
The job of keeping the world safe is the international intelligence agency Kingman’s top priority. That, and looking sharp while doing it. On the eve of Eggsy’s big date with girlfriend Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström) he is attacked by Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft), a rejected Kingsman applicant turned bad. One of the only survivors of the exploding head caper of the last film, Hesketh only has one arm. The other is a mechanical unit called Armageddon—Get it?—equipped with all manner of gadgets, including a hacking device that taps into Eggsy’s Kingsman database.
Turns out, Charlie is working with the Golden Circle, the world’s biggest drug cartel. CEO—and possible cannibal—Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) is not content to have a global monopoly on the drug trade. She wants recognition for her achievements. To this end she plans to hold the world hostage by shipping millions of pounds of drugs poisoned with a chemical that will cause the Blue Rash. First symptom? Blue spider veins. Next? Mania, then paralysis followed by exploding organs. She wants the war on drugs to end immediately or she will let all the folks who have used her tainted drugs die horrible deaths. Her slogan? “Save Lives! Legalize!”
Her first step is to use the information from Charlie’s arm to locate all ten Kingsman offices worldwide and blow them all to kingdom come. Only Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) survive the coordinated blasts. Stiff upper lipped, they continue on and, following Kingsman protocol, will later shed a single tear in private for their fallen comrades. With their ranks decimated the duo turns to their American counterparts. Camouflaged as a whiskey manufacturer in Kentucky the Statesman are run by a colourful character known as Agent Champagne (Jeff Bridges).
Former rodeo clown Agents Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) are six-shooter toting modern cowboys, stereotypical slices of Americana for a new generation while Agent Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) provides high tech guidance. Along with the new partners Merlin and Eggsy also discover their old friend Harry Hart (Colin Firth), a legendary Kingsman left for dead on an old mission. Unbeknownst to them he was rescued by the Statesman but now suffers from retrograde amnesia. Can Harry’s old friends help reboot his Kingsman memories? Will the surviving Kingsman and Statesmen be able to put aside their cultural differences in time to bring law and order back to the world?
There is a fun ninety-minute movie contained within “The Golden Circle,” but unfortunately it is buffered with an additional fifty minutes of talking. Sure, there are gadgets galore, wild chases and plenty of fight scenes but it suffers from a Pierce Brosnan era James Bond love of gadgetry and silly action set pieces. If the clichés don’t get you—“The Kingsmen need you,” Eggsy emotes, hoping to jog Harry’s memories. “The world needs you. I need you to.”—the sluggish pacing will. Despite the frenetic piece of the action sequences most other scenes drag, elongated with needless nattering. Even a riff on the first film’s most famous scene, the pub fight, feels overdone and uninspired.
The joie de vivre that made the first film so startling and fun is missing. Even the soundtrack has a been there, heard it before flavour. A case in point? The use of John Denver’s “Country Road” in a major scene despite the song already being used this year in “Free Fire,” “Alien: Covenant,” “Okja” and “Logan Lucky.”
“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is star studded but is so enamoured of its own style it doesn’t give anyone a chance to be interesting. Any movie whose most memorable performance comes from Elton John—who is clearly a better piano player than actor—is in trouble. The clothes are nice but style isn’t enough to dress up this poor excuse for a caper film.
Richard and CP24 host Arda Zarkarian have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the dirty-cop actioner “Triple 9,” the inspirational uplift of “Eddie the Eagle” and Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” and make some early Oscar predictions.
Richard and “Canada AM” host Beverly Thomson have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the dirty-cop actioner “Triple 9,” the inspirational uplift of “Eddie the Eagle” and Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next.”
“Eddie the Eagle” is not a feel-good movie. Like Eddie, the English skier whose ambitions to compete in the Olympics made him a star, the film sets its sights high. It’s not content to simply be a feel good film, it’s aspiring to be a feel GREAT movie.
When we first meet Eddie it’s 1973 and he’s a cute English kid with leg braces and a dream of entering the Olympics. Unfortunately his bad knees prevent him from taking part in most of the tradition sports so he wants to use his skill at holding his breath to win the gold.
Cut to his teen years. The braces are gone and he home trains himself in pole-vault and (not-so) long jumps in hopes of taking a shot at the Summer Olympics. His father (Tim McInnerny) isn’t as hopeful. “You’ll never be Olympic material,” he says. Bloodied but unbowed, the now twenty-two year old Eddie (Taron Egerton) switches his focus to winter sports, specifically ski jumping. With no facilities available in England he heads to Germany to train. Trouble is, while he has spirit, he has no trainer or knowledge of the sport. “How do you land?’ he wonders after one disastrous jump.
After a rough start—cue the wipe out montage—he meets Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), once an Olympic champion, now a drunk who maintains the jumps. Peary doesn’t think Eddie has a shot, but the young man’s enthusiasm wears him down and soon he is training Eddie for the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary. Ski jumping, he says, “is not just a sport, it’s an art. It’s spiritual.”
What Eddie lacks in technical skill he makes up for in determination. Because the Olympic rules hadn’t changed in 52 years since the last British ski jumper competed in the games, all Eddie has to do, basically, is show up and he’ll be guaranteed a spot in Calgary. First, however, he has to learn to jump without breaking every bone in his body.
Like Kendall Jenner or a YouTube cat video “Eddie the Eagle” is unashamed to flaunt its cuteness to appeal to viewers. Egerton, best known for his swaggerific role in “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” hands in a performance that makes Benny Hill look nuanced. With thick, ill-fitting glasses, he’s all doe eyes and determination, a stiff-upper-lipper who wants to be part of the Olympics to prove everyone who told him he wasn’t good enough wrong. It’s an underdog story of such epic proportions it makes “The Bad News Bears” and all other underdogs look jaded by comparison.
The movie’s tagline is, “Two underdogs, one dream,” so be assured, it doubles down on the long shot vibe. Jackman’s Peary is a man who once had it all, lost it and knows what it is like to be written off by everyone. He and Eddie are two peas in a pod and their dual ‘doing your best is the greatest reward’ message is the movie’s lesson. Nothing more, nothing less.
“Eddie the Eagle” is not an ambitious movie. It sets out to do one thing—make Eddie an underdog for the ages—but I couldn’t help but think of the words of the founder of the International Olympic Committee, Pierre de Coubertin. “It’s not the triumph,” he said, “it’s the struggle.” The film may triumph in that its modest goals are achieved but the struggle to tell a truly interesting story devoid of manipulation was too much for director Dexter Fletcher. “Eddie The Eagle” lands with a bit of a thud.
Based on English writer Vera Brittain’s 1933 memoir about her experiences during World War I, “Testament of Youth” is a handsomely presented, if sometimes a bit restrained story of one woman’s voyage into pacifism.
Alicia “Ex Machina” Vikander stars as Brittain, a tenacious young woman who battles against her father’s (Dominic West) wishes and the conventions of the day to take the Oxford University entrance exam. Her schooling is interrupted when WWI breaks out and brother Edward (Taron “Kingsman: The Secret Service” Egerton), her fiancé Roland Leighton (Kit “Game of Thrones “ Harington) and friends Victor (Colin Morgan) and Geoffrey (Jonathan Bailey) are sent to fight at the front lines. With her friends at risk Vera opts to join them, leaving school to enrol as a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment. Tending to both German and English soldiers in London, Malta and France she learns first hand about personal loss, human suffering and the futility of war.
“Testament of Youth” offers up a different, parallel view to combat, than the usual war film. Told from the point of view of a battle nurse, it is different but no less effecting as a story of female strength. Vikander is the movie’s soul and strength, handing in a performance that is both strong willed and remarkably nimble. When Vera pretends to be the German girlfriend of a dying soldier, the performance transcends the “Downton Abbey” vibe of the production. Moments like these are almost an antidote to the melodrama that masquerades as actual emotion in other scenes. Almost but not quite.
The supporting performances work well enough, although other than Vera the emotional connection necessary for the anti-war message to be truly effective is missing. Large scale shots of dead and dying men in battle and hospitals visualize the sentiment but a real, personal connection with the characters would have been more fitting for a story about a woman so absolutely changed by the war and her experiences.
“Testament of Youth” is based on a true and well-documented story but a dose or three of melodrama—does she really have to get such bad news on her wedding day?—blunts the power of the story.