Weekend Roundup & Kingsman: The Secret Service review

Valentine’s Weekend is awesome this year as it’s a company holiday on Monday for President’s Day, who doesn’t love a three-day weekend right? Hope you had a lovely V-day wherever you are. It was super cold Saturday night so we opted for some scrumptious Thai take-out and watched Nightcrawler, that’s the kind of perfect *night in* for us. I’ll have my full review of the Jake Gyllenhaal film but suffice to say it lives up to all the great reviews I’ve been reading.

It’s not surprising that the Fifty Shades movie shatters box office record, though it’s kind of sad such a movie is so wildly popular. There is no way I’d ever subject myself to what Aussie anchor Lisa Wilkinson calls ‘domestic violence dressed up as erotica’ and I’m convinced her review is far more entertaining that the film:


I re-watched two of my favorite period dramas, Belle and Pride & Prejudice, and my love for both films just keep growing. I did go to the cinema Friday night to see Kingsman: The Secret Service and here’s my review:

KingsmanPoster

I have to admit that the first time I knew about this movie was from this cool poster I saw at a local cinema. It has no info of the director nor the cast but the visual of an elegant closet is so Bond-like and ever so British. But by the time the trailer came out I thought it looked a wee bit silly, and so it wasn’t until the positive reviews coming out that I was excited to see it.

Well, the movie is VERY British indeed, both an homage AND a spoof to the 007 movies, and as a fan of the genre, that definitely appeals to me. Refined British gent Colin Firth plays as one of the Kingsman agents, Harry Hart, who’s as proper as he is bad ass. The first act was basically him recruiting a replacement for his fellow agent who died on a mission in the Middle East. Harry (aka Galahad) owed his life to Lancelot (another code name inspired by British Knights) and thus he felt compelled to recruit his friend’s teenage son, Eggsy (Taron Egerton). The film moved along swiftly and director Matthew Vaughn infused it with tongue-in-cheek humor and a huge dose of riotous fun from start to finish. The whole sequence at a ski resort is very Bond-like, but think Roger Moore instead of Daniel Craig in tone, complete with a gorgeous female assassin wearing razor-sharp blades as prosthetic legs.

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Apparently this was based on a comic-book written by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons (the two also collaborated on Wanted). The story itself is actually pretty solid and not all about silly good fun. There’s a bit of a father/son bond between Harry and Eggsy, and a bit of a coming-of-age story in regards to Eggsy. During one of the intense Kingsman training, Mark Strong‘s character told him to ‘get rid of the chip on his shoulder,’ and Eggsy’s slowly coming into his own as the film progresses.

As the film’s master villain is Samuel L. Jackson, as internet billionaire Richmond Valentine that’s a heck of a lot more entertaining than Tomorrow Never Dies‘ lame media mogul Elliot Carver. He even has his very own henchwoman deadlier than Jaws & Oddjob combined, in the form of dark-haired beauty Sofia Boutella. Jackson is obviously having a good time playing Valentine. He speaks with an amusing lisp (which the actor apparently had in real life) and can’t stand the sight of blood. Of course he has to be some kind of a psychopath hellbent on *saving the planet* as it were, but in his own twisted way. It’s an interesting social commentary on how our addiction to our handphones just might lead us to our own demise. Apparently, the broadcast signal sent by Valentine to those hand phones cause people to become extremely violent.

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It’s yet another fun collaboration between Vaughn and Jane Goldman (Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class). This could very well be Vaughn’s version of a Bond flick, that is if the Bond producers would allow him to make a hyper violent R-rated film. I knew this would be violent but I didn’t know it’d be THIS violent, I mean there are some intense and extremely bloody fight sequences that made even John Wick seems tame. One sequence inside a church reminds me of this scene in 300 when Leonidas single-handedly fought all those Persians, but without the stylized slo-mo. I do think the foul language & violence are excessive, gratuitous and more graphic than it needs to be, even if the fight sequences are well-styled. There’s one crazy head-explosions scene that’s absolutely bonkers, set to the Pomp and Circumstance Marches no less! You can’t help but laugh in its absurdity and the fact that the filmmakers had the balls to do it. SPOILER ALERT: We’ve seen plenty of scenes of the White House exploding on screen, but never the Commander in Chief himself, especially one who is still in power!

I think what makes Kingsman works is its self-awareness and that it doesn’t to be a heavy movie. It’s ‘boys just wanna have fun’ type of flick, packed with wit, dry humor and of guns & gadgetry. The set pieces are great to look at, especially the Kingsman headquarter that resembles Drax’ mansion in Moonraker. And of course, those sleek, sharp suits that’s practically a character in itself. I saw Sam Jackson in a talk show the other day wearing one of the Kingsman menswear line that’s crafted especially for the film, dang that is some exquisite tailoring. It was fun seeing Mr. Darcy being so ridiculously bad ass here. I read that Colin Firth did most of his own stunts, which is quite impressive and somehow he still looked quite elegant doing it. “Manners maketh man” is his motto after all. I quite like newcomer Taron Egerton here as well, I actually think he might fit the role better than Kick-Ass’ star Aaron Johnson who was offered the role initially. It’s always nice seeing the always-reliable Mark Strong having a bit of fun here and there are also some amusing cameo from Mark Hamill and Michael Caine.

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Overall it’s definitely a fun spy flick that works in a guilty pleasure kind of way. Kingsman is gleefully over-the-top, relentlessly boisterous and unapologetically un-PC. If you’re a fan of Vaughn’s or Guy Ritchie movies, you should enjoy this entertaining twist of the spy genre. Though the ultra violence and some offensive content is definitely not for the faint of heart.

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So what did you see this weekend? If you’ve seen Kingsman, what did YOU think?

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77 thoughts on “Weekend Roundup & Kingsman: The Secret Service review

  1. I’ve kinda laid low this weekend as I watched Titus, Divergent, a theatrical film version of Oedipus Rex, and Lou Reed-Berlin: Live at St. Ann’s Warehouse plus a couple of re-watches in Natural Born Killers and David Bowie-Five Years.

    I’m totally eager for your review of Nightcrawler… that review of Fifty Shades of Grey is amazing. I might watch if it’s on TV just to see how bad it is.

        1. Y’know I totally get that. I quite enjoyed it when I saw it last year but seeing the trailer of the sequel didn’t make me enthusiastic about it. I do think Hunger Games is still more memorable overall.

  2. Hey Ruth. Not much watching this weekend. Rewatched some classics – The Defiant Ones and The Harder they Fall. As for Kingsman, it’s a skip for me. I don’t care at all for Vaughn or his type of movie. Not my thing.

    1. Hi Keith, ah I see. I presume you didn’t see X-Men First Class either, I happen to love that one which is PG-13. But yeah, this one was extremely violent, which is gratuitous IMO, but I do love the spy genre.

  3. Abbi

    That Fifty Shades review is hilarious. I went to see it with my book club since we all read the book together and the central theme of my review is that you can’t polish a turd…

    1. Ahah, you can’t polish a turd, that sounds right Abbi. I don’t think I’d even watch this for laughs out of principle, and also, why torture myself, ahah.

  4. I’ll wait to watch Kingsman for the couch. I have heard many movie buffs found this to be fun. Yesterday was blissfully quiet, warm, and sunny, and I watched ‘Ida’ and wrote in my novel.

    1. Hi Cindy! That sounds like a plan. It really was way more violent than I thought, esp the sequence inside a hate-group type church. Blissfully quiet sounds awesome. Are you gonna review IDA? That’s quite a productive day, good for you girl!

  5. LOL, the 50 Shades hoopla is hilarious to me. I had no desire to see it, like at all, but my wife gets a lady boner every time she sees the trailer, so I’m thinking I’ll eventually see it.

    I feel like the only person who hasn’t seen Kingsman yet.

    I saw Viridiana this weekend, which was interesting (in a good way, I guess).

    1. Hello Drew! I’m already tired even looking at pics and reading about it to be honest. I don’t care to ever see it, and I for one don’t find it sexy, like at all. Oh I think lots of people still haven’t seen Kingsman, it just opens this weekend. I felt like I was the last person to see Nightcrawler, ahah.

      Oh what’s Viridiana? Now I’m curious.

  6. daveackackattack

    Will probably catch Kingsman on Netflix. I do like Matthew Vaughn though.

    Purely out of respect for good films everywhere is the reason I won’t see 50 Shades of Grey. LOL.

    And as far as respect for women goes my take is this. The book was written by a woman, bought by women (100 million sales and counting), got a major motion made because of all of the frenzy… the casting was one of the biggest stories of the year in the entertainment world. It was heavily marketed toward the Lifetime Channel demographic, released on a woman’s holiday (Valentine’s Day) and was probably viewed by more women than anything since the Sex & The City movie. That said it’s not the kind of movie for all women (Ruth, the Aussie reporter, my mom… LOL) and I’m pretty certain that Frank and his buddies down at the construction site weren’t responsible for the $80 million haul over the weekend. Well they may have been dragged to it but you know what I’m saying… I think I can safely say men everywhere weren’t waiting with baited breath to see this.

    In the end I feel like I respect women enough to let them chose what they want to see because clearly a lot of them wanted this based on the book sales and box office numbers. Even if Ruth, I and a lot of you purveyors of fine film out there didn’t.

    Ironically 50 Shades of Grey came in second to Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ for opening weekend hauls in February ($83 million). Now there’s a guy who respects women…

    1. Hello Dave! If you like Vaughn, I think you’d enjoy this, it’s one of his most brazen one yet.

      Ahah yeah, unless you’re a masochist, why subject ourself to such a cinematic torture?? Yeah, the director is a woman too, but just because it was made and targeted (presumably) for women doesn’t mean it’s for ALL women, so you’re absolutely right on that. Yes we have to respect people to like whatever they want to like, but part of me is still dismayed I guess that they choose to subject themselves to something like that. Both morally speaking and in terms of quality. I mean I actually did read an excerpt or two a few years ago as a friend of a friend was obsessed w/ the book (this was long before it became a cultural juggernaut) and so I googled it. It was a piece of trash and the writing was embarrassingly bad!

      Ahah, I see what you did there about Gibson’s reputation w/ women. I for one believe he was set-up by his then girlfriend who’s a well-known gold-digger, but surely the guy needs help. But hey, I know for sure the real life hero of The Passion of the Christ does respect AND love women, always have and always will 😀

      1. daveackackattack

        I know all about masochism as I had to sit through Meet Joe Black for 3 hours!!!! Aaaaaah!

        A friend of mine read 50 Shades for a blog on books she reviews. I believe she also used the phrase “embarrassingly bad” too. LOL. Secretary with James “When did I get bloated?” Spader and Maggie Gyllenhaal, who couldn’t have been cuter, was such a better movie along similar lines. Who knew S&M could be so cute?

        “I don’t even want to read about Fifty Shades anymore, so bored and sick of all the coverage on it.” I second that Ruth.

        As far as old Mel goes he’s also a straight up racist… so he’s got that going for him too but you’re right about the crazy woman he was with. Set up? Sure… but the rants that came out of his mouth were just unbelievable. Gold digger or not. Long gone are the days of couples like Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

  7. Hey plan on seeing Kingsman hopefully this weekend.

    As for Fifty Shades of Grey. Well I saw it this past weekend.

    More on that this week 😊 I want to get through a few more Sundance reviews first.

    1. Hope you enjoy Kingsman, but if you love the spy genre & don’t mind the excessive violence then it’s a movie for you.

      I don’t even want to read about Fifty Shades anymore, so bored and sick of all the coverage on it.

  8. I was thinking of seeing Kingsmen since it’s mixed in Dolby Atmos but the Icon theater is not showing it in their Atmos theater. I think they’re showing that soft core porn movie that made millions in that theater instead. I’ll catch it eventually, maybe next weekend.

    The new movie, well new to me anyway, I watched over the weekend was Life of Pie. I didn’t want to watch it in 2D so I’ve waited until until I have a 3D projector; I liked it and the 3 effects were great. I’m still catching up on my bluray purchases from holidays. Watched Furious 6 since the 7th film is opening in a couple of months. Also, watched my annual cold weather temperature film, John Carpenter’s The Thing.

    1. Yeah it wasn’t shown in the larger screens when I saw it, I didn’t even know it was mixed in Dolby Atmos. Since you love Bourne & Bond, I think you’d get a kick out of that movie, Ted.

      The effects of Life of Pi is incredible! Now that is a gorgeous movie and the 3D was well worth it!

      1. Yeah I planned to see it on Friday because I thought the Icon theater was going to show it in their Atmos theater but of course they had to put the soft core film there because it’s a big draw for the weekend. LOL. I wish Southdale would upgrade one of their theaters to Atmos already, they were supposed to be the first theater in MN to be equipped with Atmos surround sound.

  9. Stu

    I haven’t seen Kingsman yet…it has done well here but has seemingly divided opinion. I might go and check it this week but my wife wants to watch Fifty Shades Of Grey! Gah.
    I watched a Kazakhstani film called Tulpan over the weekend, and Robert Altman’s Nashville.

    Sounds like you enjoyed Nightcrawler. I look forward to reading a review!

    1. Hi Stu! I think the excessive violence put people off. I wish it hadn’t be THAT violent but thankfully it was only in some scenes and for the most part it was a lot of fun. You poor thing that you’d have to endure Fifty Shades!

      Nightcrawler is one creepy film, fantastic performance by Jake G, I’m even more surprised he didn’t score many nominations this year.

      1. Stu

        Lol I did think to myself “if 50 Shades is as bad as everyone else seems to think it is then I’ll enjoy writing the review”!

  10. I watched a thriller from a local director called IT FOLLOWS,and it was really good and had some unexpected twists. Hope I’ll get a chance to see KINGSMAN, it’s another one where I missed the screening and was hoping it would be good. The trailer looked awesome. Nice review, Ruth.

    1. Hi Paula! Oh It Follows sounds very scary, I thought it was a horror film? Kingsman is riotously fun but it’s super violent, I closed my eyes pretty much the entire scene inside a church. It was soooo bloody.

      1. I guess IT FOLLOWS is technically a horror film, but it’s more on the creepy/psychological thriller side, and actually not much gore. They chose the absolute worst, least representative image for the poster. I know we have similar reactions so thanks for the heads up on KINGSMAN.

        1. Ah I see. The poster is the girl who’s tied up in a chair right? I don’t mind psycho thriller, so long as it’s not terribly gory. As for Kingsman, it’s quite amusing to see Mr Darcy slaying off soooo many people, he rivals Keanu in John Wick, perhaps he might actually win the fight, ahah.

          1. Yes, she’s in the chair like that for not even 2 minutes of the movie. I’m gonna try to catch KINGSMAN, I’ll just turn away during the really bad stuff.

            1. That’s weird that they chose that shot for the poster then :\ Oh yeah the REALLY violent stuff is only in a couple of scene, just remember to avert your eyes when they got into the church!

        1. Ok, tell Luis I said hello! 😀 If you like Vaughn’s style then you know what to expect. It was still way too violent for my taste, I really could do without some of those scenes. But as a fan of spy movies, it was definitely hilarious!

            1. Ahah, so I’m w/ Luis then 😉 Well I don’t fault you for not loving it Fernando. I do think it’s got some silly parts but overall it’s entertaining for me, maybe ’cause I love spy movies. I do think it’s way too violent than it needs to be though.

  11. Glad you enjoyed Kingsman Ruth. I saw Fifty Shades this weekend. I went in with an open mind but was horrified by the character of Christian. The film seems to confuse it’s tone and fails to dig deep into the sinister side of its romantic hero.

    1. Hi Natalie! I LOVE the spy genre so the spoof was hilarious. As for Fifty Shades, well it seems that the book was a turd, so can’t imagine the film would be any better.

  12. Totally agree with you on Kingsman, Ruth! I thought it was a TON of fun, and enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. Colin Firth was so great, made me wish he could’ve actually been Bond at some point.

    1. Hi Billy, long time no *see* man. Glad to hear you enjoyed this too, but don’t you think it’s excessively violent though? Colin might’ve been too gentleman-like to play the real Bond, but who knows, maybe he could pull it off.

  13. I really want to see this but I hated Kick Ass and Layer Cake – did you like these two? But I’m definitely going to see it for Firth and Strong, I’m impressed you saw it the violent seems really over the top here but what wouldn’t we see for Mr. Darcy?:D

    1. Hi Sati! I enjoyed Kick-Ass but I didn’t love it, there are parts that really bothered me. Haven’t seen Layer Cake yet but my hubby did and he said it’s best I don’t see it as it’s super violent, ahah. I’m a bit surprised how violent this is, I mean I kinda expect it because it’s R-rated but there are a couple of scenes that are simply gratuitous. The most graphic scene is of Mr Darcy slashing off a bunch of people in a church, I think he’s as bad ass as Keanu in John Wick & Dan Stevens in The Guest, if you can imagine that! 😛

      1. I LOVED the film! Went to see it in cinema and that church scene was one of the most impressive scenes I’ve seen in a while. I thought the violence was really toned down – there wasn’t much blood and the camera seemed to cut away before anything too excessive happened.

        1. Ahah, well I think we have a different level of tolerance of violent content. Overall the fight scenes was done in quick cuts but the long scene of people being impaled in that church was too much for me. I have to say that the movie was fun though, so glad you enjoyed it, too! So what do you think of Mr Darcy? I was really bummed when he was shot, but there’s rumor he might still be back for the sequel 😉

                1. Ahah yeah, I think a respiratory equipment should be provided at each theater that screen that movie! 😛 Seriously, why they never consider him to play Bond is beyond me!

    1. Ahah, I thought that rubbish joke is a spoof on the Bond flicks but yeah it’s really quite crude. It’s interesting how it turns all the British upper-lip thing on its head by casting Mr Darcy as some bad ass warrior, in dapper suit no less!

  14. Russell

    Kingsman was so much fun! I didn’t realize it was based on the comic by Mark Miller until the movie was done, but that definitely explained why this movie reminded me so much of Kick-ass (another Miller-Vaughn collaboration).

    Btw, in the synopsis you mentioned Harry was trying to recruit replacement for Lancelot – which is true, but Lancelot died in Argentina (not middle east) and Eggy was the son of the agent who died years ago in middle east (didn’t think his code name was Lancelot).

    As always, I enjoy your reviews! Keep up the great work!

    1. Hi Russell! Yeah I didn’t realize that either, I didn’t even know Miller had written quite a few comic books. Ooops I might’ve mistaken the name/detail of the agent, yeah I knew Eggy’s dad was the one who died in the Middle East, I mistakenly thought that guy’s code name was Lancelot 😛 Well glad you’re paying better attention than I did. Glad you enjoyed the movie, too!

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  16. Hey Ruth, i love your review. I really liked Kingsman, and I actually thought the violence was so over the top that it was beautiful in a way. Firth was fantastic, the script wasn’t as funny as it thought it was, and the camera work was astounding. Not the best film ever but soooo much fun

    1. Hi Mikey! I really enjoyed it too, though I did avert my eyes during some of the gratuitous violence. Fortunately it’s only in a few scenes and not throughout. I like Firth here, he’s very Bond-like and very elegant. I quite like that Taron guy too, he’s like a cross between Mark Wahlberg and Tom Hardy 🙂

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