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Knights Of The Secret Table At Work In Kingsman: The Secret Service
A veteran covert agent, keeping a promise to the family of a fallen colleague, helps the colleague's son find a direction in life. In Kingsman: The Secret Service, agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth), who goes by the code name of Galahad, makes a unique and unusual offer to Gary "Eggsy" Unwin (Taron Egerton), whose father gave his life by falling on a grenade a terror suspect had concealed. After a pub altercation leads to his arrest, Eggsy calls Galahad, who makes the charges go away. As the two sit in the same pub and talk about his dad, the same people who harassed Eggsy and his friends try to start something again, only to find that Galahad can easily handle himself against a pack of aggressors.
The organization has a vacancy following the death of another Kingsman in the line of duty. He had tried to rescue James Arnold (Mark Hamill), a professor who's a leading expert on global warming. Arnold is just one of many prominent people who have disappeared recently. The Kingsman killer is Gazelle (Sofia Boutella), whose prosthetic legs are lethal weapons. She works for Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), an American billionaire businessman who found much of his success in electronic communications. His concerns include global warming and population growth, but he quietly develops electronics that address both concerns. As he does that, he offers the world free internet and phone service for life.
Meanwhile, Kingsman leader Arthur (Michael Caine), calls for each member to recommend a replacement for their fallen one. Galahad puts forth Eggsy for the slot as the new Lancelot, where the young recruit finds he's up against university-educated people who have more of a knowledge of techniques essential to the Kingsman life. Their trainer is Merlin (Mark Strong), an expert in technical and survival skill. The process reduces the group to two finalists - Eggsy and Roxy Morton (Sophie Cookson), the only recruit who didn't dismiss Eggsy due to his background. Meanwhile, Galahad, posing as a businessman, meets with Valentine and offers to support his cause. Valentine takes the offer under advisement while secretly tracking Galahad's activity. They soon learn that Valentine's purpose for the free communication. Merlin, Roxy, and Eggsy use their skills to try to disable Valentine's network as he hosts a big bash for his biggest supporters.
Kingsman: The Secret Service, which is based on a comic book by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, is a fun look at a secret agent society that has more gadgets at its disposal than James Bond. Kingsman suits, for example, are made from a bulletproof fabric, and a seemingly ordinary lighter doubles as a grenade. A Kingsman, at most times, speaks and acts normally to not bring attention to a Kingsman's true purpose. When it's time for them to act, they act swiftly and extremely efficiently. The film, though, gets very violent at times, especially in the later stages. Some parts don't make much sense, such as the kidnapping of so many famous people, or the implanting of chips in Valentine's supporters that could be used against them by someone other than Valentine. Those who weren't aboard with his plan should have been eliminated, as that would be consistent with Valentine's ultimate plan. Director Matthew Vaughn, who passed on directing X-Men: Days Of Future Past, found a fine project in its place, though the shifts from exposition to action will be a bit jarring for some viewers. Vaughn also co-wrote the interesting script with Jane Goldman, his frequent story partner.
I like the mix of older and younger talent found in Kingsman. Firth, as Harry, has a down-to-earth presence, and a collection of Sun headlines that became the news following the completion of his Kingsman missions. He believes in manners, and in the enforcement of them. To keep the bartender at a pub where he demonstrates his manners, Harry hits that bartender with an amnesia potion that erases his short-term recollcetion. Harry patiently works with Eggsy as the Kingsman imparts his lessons. Egerton, appearing in just his second film, shows a young man who finally finds a calling, and a way to help himself and his mother escape the abuses that have hounded them since Mr. Unwin's passing. Jackson is strong as Valentine, who loves his plan, but cannot stand the bloodshed associated with any of the violence he knows this plan will unleash. Cookson, in her film debut, does nice work as Roxy, who adjusts from being a student of self-defense preservation and technology to one comfortable with these things. Strong is funny as the strait-faced Merlin, the trainer who soon becomes an ally to both Eggsy and Roxy. Caine and Hamill also do well in smaller supporting roles.
For over 165 years, a team of elite agents have served as a contemporary group of knights. They show refinement, but they also show a lethal side when the need arises. When one man plots to play judge, jury, and executioner for the world, these knights must deliver a response to stop those plans. Kingsman: The Secret Service shows how they work, how they recruit potential agents, then expects those chosen to continue the legacy in the same fashion. A young man chosen for the process learns what it means to be a private warrior from a Kingsman himself, while a fellow recruit comes to learn strictly from the training process. Each grows into the role of a warrior, carrying out the world's most essential work, and letting the fanfare focus elsewhere.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Kingsman: The Secret Service 3.5 stars. Private knights for modern times.