Sunday, February 15, 2015

"Kingsman" review: like the Piranha Bros., cheery but violent

In the Monty Python sketch, "The Piranha Brothers," the eponymous siblings are described as, "A cheery lot. Cheery... but violent." I can't think of a better description of the overall tone of "The Kingsman" than that.

For a movie whose action starts relatively slowly, there ends up being a lot of cheery violence. I mean... a lot a lot. If you are disturbed by the gratuitous deaths of hundreds of bystanders and generally innocent (or at least non-main-villainous) crowds of fellow humans... think twice. If, however, you can take your bloodbaths with a handful of salt, you'll find yourself doing that thing where you laugh and go, "Awww... Garrrg... Blaaahhhh..." at the same time. A kind of laugh-groan-yuck noise where you laugh because it's well done and, frankly, pretty funny but groan because, well... lots of death. And then you feel bad because you're laughing at people getting their blanks blanked off or blanked up or blanked in... and then you feel bad for feeling bad because, really... did you go to this movie thinking it would be a serious treatment of... er... anything.

Warning... mild spoilers coming about some character attributes, but nothing that will spoil the plot. I promise. Because if you don't know the plot, you've never seen a tongue-in-cheek spy movie.

Colin is great. Love seeing him playing, essentially, a classier version of Bond. The ass kickings he hands (foots?) out are the main joy of the film. The main character hunk (don't know him, don't care) did a fine job of jogging through almost every "lower class kid surprises his 'betters' and makes good" trope in the book. Samuel L. Jackson (with an inexplicable lisp) is... just odd. Don't understand the casting, didn't understand his character's motivation (not surprising: it was given 11 seconds), don't understand the reasoning behind his Grand Evil Scheme. He serves his purpose only barely, which is a shame, as I generally love SLJ. His henchman (henchwoman?), Gazelle, played by Sofia Boutella has prosthetics similar to the "Flex-Foot Cheetah" legs but, of course, with blades in them. And while that makes for a neat henchwoman gimmick, it could have been much more interestingly used. Yes, there are a couple good fights where she bounced around on them, weaving a ballet of death. But it seemed like whomever was in charge of Colin's fights got the good writers/choreographers, and she got the 2nd stringers. Similarly, the spy gizmos were somewhat disappointing and all, essentially, warmed-over Bondage items.

The tone is, really, what saves this movie from being average. It doesn't take itself seriously, doesn't expect you to, and -- having given itself (and us) that kind permission -- goes off in its chosen direction with willful abandon. The couple major surprises that are popped on us (that's a pun; come back after you've seen the picture) are fun and inventive and the filming is joyously over-the-top music-video-meets-sam-peckinpah. While there is not a lot of meat on this bone, there is also no fat. Which means... I guess... It's just a bone. Which, as dogs will tell you, makes a fine toy.

I give it a B+ and encourage anyone who can enjoy casual, almost glib and merry buckets of colorful violence to check it out. As said of Douglas Piranha, "When he was young, he was keen on boxing. But when he learned to walk, he took up putting a boot in the groin."

If that sentence makes you smile at all, you'll like "The Kingsman."

4 comments:

  1. This entire movie feels like an homage to the spy movies of the past, with top notch acting, believable character interactions, and some incredible frolicking fight scenes.

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  3. Kingsman is such a great fun action spy movie. I saw it twice at the theater. I just watched it again with Blu ray which looks better than in the theater with my Pioneer Kuro plasma. At the end of the movie, I was left with this wonderful feeling - that was really a fun enjoyable movie. Hope there will be a sequel.

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