Kingsman: The Secret Service (R)
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This 2015 movie is loosely based on the 2012 comic book miniseries "The Secret Service," which I haven't read. But that miniseries was co-written by Mark Millar, whose Kick-Ass comics I read and loved. And this movie was made by Marv Films and directed by Matthew Vaughn, just like the Kick-Ass movies. So of course it had to be very cool. And it's not surprising that it's one of the most badass movies I've ever seen. And it's really funny. And breaks a lot of tropes. And it has an amazing cast.
So anyway, it starts in the Middle East, in 1997. Some sort of British black ops team had a captive, but he managed to pull the pin on a grenade the team had somehow missed, and one of the team sacrifices himself to save the others. Later, back in London, the leader of the team, Harry Hart (Colin Firth), breaks the news to the widow of his teammate, Michelle Unwin. He gives her a medal of valor, with a phone number on the back which she could call if she ever needed any sort of favor, but she's too distraught over her husband's death to care about any of that. So Harry gives the medal to her young son, Gary "Eggsy" Unwin, and tells him to take care of it.
Seventeen years later, a professor named James Arnold (an almost unrecognizable Mark Hamill) has been kidnapped. His captors seem nice enough, even offering him some very good whiskey, while they wait for the boss to arrive. But before the boss shows up, a spy arrives, and we get our first taste of the movie's utterly amazeballs badassery, as he takes out all the henchmen. However, the spy himself is then killed by a woman with prosthetic legs that end in special blades. Soon thereafter, the boss arrives. We later learn that the woman is named Gazelle, and the man is an internet billionaire named Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson). He's concerned about global warming, a subject about which Professor Arnold knows a lot, and Valentine just wants to talk to him about his plan to save the world. (It will be quite awhile before we learn what that plan is, but it's safe to assume it's... less than ideal.)
Meanwhile, we learn that the spy who had been killed by Gazelle when he tried to rescue Professor Arnold worked for a private spy organization called Kingsman, which is far more secret than any other spy organization in the world. The spy's code name was Lancelot, and now that he's gone, Kingsman will have to recruit and train a new agent to fill his position. The head of the organization is code named Arthur (Michael Caine), and Harry Hart is an agent code named Galahad. They know that Lancelot had been killed while trying to rescue the professor, but they also find that Arnold is not missing anymore; he's going about his regular life. So that's a mystery they'll have to unravel, if they want to find out who's responsible for Lancelot's death, and why. And it's not long before more important people from around the world start going missing.
Meanwhile, Eggsy is now a young man, who's become a petty criminal. And he's living with his mom and her abusive abusive husband Dean (Eggsy's stepfather), who leads a group of thugs that threaten Eggsy and his friends. But Eggsy finds a way to mess with them, which ends with him getting into big trouble with the law. So, he finally calls the number on the medal Harry had given him all those years ago, and is soon released. Harry meets him again, and we learn that he's been keeping tabs on Eggsy, which allows him to give a little speech about how Eggsy is really smart and athletic and whatnot (so the audience knows he already has potential as a secret agent), but Harry is disappointed that Eggsy has consistently quit any attempts to make something of himself. Of course, that all changes when Harry/Galahad recruits him as one of several young men and women who are undergoing training to become the next Lancelot... and the training doubles as an elimination process, because there can be only one. Their instructor is an agent called Merlin. Most of the guys who are in training with Eggsy are kind of jerks (because they come from more affluent backgrounds than he does). But he's befriended by one of his fellow trainees, a woman named Roxanne "Roxy" Morton.
Interspersed with scenes of the rather unorthodox training, we see Valentine meeting with various people and putting his plan into motion, while also trying to find out who the spy was that had tried to rescue Professor Arnold (and killed a bunch of his henchmen in the process), and what organization he worked for. Gazelle has ties to many different spy groups, and none of them know anything about Lancelot or Kingsman. But Galahad's investigation into Valentine ultimately unwittingly helps Valentine make progress in learning about Kingsman. And that leads to a rather fun bit of cat-and-mouse between the two of them.
And that's pretty much all I want to reveal of the plot. I won't say which trainee becomes the new Lancelot (though it's safe to say Eggsy and at least one other trainee will play important parts in thwarting Valentine's plan). And I won't reveal the nature of Valentine's plan to "save the world." I will say there are lots of amazing fight scenes. And the good guys win in the end (though not before the bad guy's plan comes so close to succeeding that I can't imagine there won't be serious repercussions throughout the world). And... really it's just an all-around awesome movie with awesome characters, awesome special effects (some of which make scenes that could have been horrendously gory instead become both spectacular and kind of hilarious; though be warned, there are some scenes that are just gory). And um... it's all set to really cool music. And there's a very nice bonus scene just a little ways into the closing credits. And I guess I can't think what else to say, except that I'm really looking forward to the sequel.