Matthew Vaughn's latest graphic novel adaptation is a rowdy, violent, populist, high-style spy fantasia. I kind of loved it.
Here's the opening to my review:
It's fitting that the international spy agency at the center of "Kingsman: The Secret Service" operates out of a high-end tailor shop on Savile Row. The movie's characters are perfectly costumed, and the movie itself is impeccably stylish.
Director Matthew Vaughn's latest graphic novel adaptation has verve, wit and flair, against which it juxtaposes a joyously vulgar populism. It's a spectacular crowd pleaser, tailor-made for the masses — and the moment.
"Kingsman" is a movie for the 99 percent, and not just those encumbered with the academic leftism of the Occupy Wall Street crowd. The villain is Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson, in his most memorable role in years), a fashionable tech zillionaire with a comic lisp that, surprisingly, gets more funny than irritating. Valentine is a prototypical Davos-type, a devout liberal and dedicated climate change activist who has given billions of dollars to the cause, only to be defeated repeatedly. He decides that more drastic — and, one discovers, deadly — measures are needed, although the world's moneyed elite are, of course, exempt.
The movie's populism is distinctly conservative — there are explicit shout-outs to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher — but it is neither preachy nor entirely predictable.
Instead of earnest dogmatism, Mr. Vaughn opts for a mix of smirking satire and flippant wit. Spy movies are as much a target as any political agenda.
In particular, "Kingsman" is a sendup of James Bond as well as an homage to his legacy.
One thing I didn't note in my review: It's the first big Hollywood movie to kill President Obama.