The Bock’s Office: ‘Kingsman’ is entertaining, but no crowning achievement |

The Bock’s Office: ‘Kingsman’ is entertaining, but no crowning achievement

Secret agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) prepares to show his young student Eggsy (Taron Egerton) what kind of benefits his career could have in "Kingsman: The Secret Service." The movie is about a group of British spies, whose newest recruit must help stop the workings of a wealthy madman.
Courtesy Photo

If you go...

“Kingsman: The Secret Service,” rated R

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

Running time: 129 minutes

Starring: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Taron Egerton and Michael Caine

Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas.

When someone tells you “manners maketh the man,” they’re probably inclined to lecture you about etiquette. When the hero of “Kingsman: The Secret Service” tells you that, he’s about to smash a glass in your face and beat you and your entire group of friends within an inch of your lives.

If you go…

“Kingsman: The Secret Service,” rated R

Rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

Running time: 129 minutes

Starring: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Taron Egerton and Michael Caine

Now playing at Wildhorse Stadium Cinemas.

Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) has never amounted to much, despite incredible potential that differentiates him from the rest of his working-class mates. When the young Brit has a brush with the law, he’s bailed out by a mysterious bespectacled man named Harry (Colin Firth), who claims to have owed him a favor.

The dapper stranger later reveals his identity as a member of the Kingsman, a secret agency that just happens to have a job opening, one which he’d like to see Eggsy fill.

As he undergoes the training for the highly covert program among many wealthier, more sophisticated candidates, Eggsy shows he may have the making of an agent, but even those who have been with the organization for years aren’t prepared for their latest threat — a series of disappearances of prominent people and an eccentric billionaire (Samuel L. Jackson) who seems to have something even more sinister up his sleeve.

Those who considered Firth a man of drama and the occasional light-hearted comedy haven’t seen him in this kind of action yet. Yes, he still looks and talks like the stuffy professor from “A Single Man,” but it doesn’t take much to push him into a lightning fast force of nature, whether he’s using his bare knuckles, a bulletproof umbrella and plenty of other gadgetry befitting the modern spy.

James Bond wishes Q had some of this stuff in his lab.

Egerton is agreeable enough as his new protégé, although the etymology of Eggsy — which has to have a good story behind it when your real name is Gary — remains unspoken. He may appear a punk, but he’s got the makings of a man who can absolutely wear horn-rimmed glasses and a tailored suit, because that’s apparently about 50 percent of the job.

Mark Strong and Michael Caine fulfill the quota for the number of English actors who have worldwide appeal as Kingsmen Merlin and Arthur — Harry’s code is Galahad, in case you’re sensing a theme — while first-time film star Sophie Cookson gets a minimal amount of attention as Eggsy’s main competition for the open slot.

Who would’ve thought something with such an androcentric title would put its female characters in the background?

Oh, well, at least there’s some excitement brought forth by Gazelle, the evil Gal Friday/bodyguard/henchwoman, played by nimble dancer Sofia Boutella with more panache than Oddjob, Jaws or Xenia Onatopp ever had, although the Oscar Pistorius legs probably don’t hurt.

As for her boss, Jackson steals the show as Internet tycoon Richmond Valentine, whose Mike Tyson-ified speaking voice belies his talk of mankind needing to be culled from the Earth. If we had a dollar for every time we heard that speech…

It was only a few years ago when director Matthew Vaughn brought the over-the-top superhero graphic novel “Kick-Ass” by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. to the screen, going by the same course of attack with this adaptation of Millar’s work with Dave Gibbons in “The Secret Service.”

With audiences getting less impressed with the genre of horrifically violent, endlessly profane flicks, Vaughn still manages to shock here and there, and do it elegantly, whether it’s a slow reveal of Gazelle slicing a man in half with those deadly prosthetics or Harry’s rampage through a group of hate-mongers set to the instrumental portions of “Free Bird.”

Don’t even get us started on the hilarity of Valentine’s fail-safe measure to keep his associates in line.

The action is good form, the comedy isn’t bad, but what keeps this satire of espionage entirely unremarkable is Vaughn and writing partner Jane Goldman going down the same old road in terms of character development. If there were just one wink to the camera to imply this was intentional, that might change things, but the lack of self-awareness about staying entirely within the same chain you’re trying to break is discouraging.

You’ll get some laughs and some thrills alike with “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” but if you want something that’s a good spoof on 007 or John le Carré, this ranks somewhere between “Our Man Flint” and “Austin Powers.”

Yes, even with the lighter that doubles as a grenade.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or or follow him on Twitter @TheBocksOffice.