‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ is the Best Movie (So Far) of 2015

Kingsman: The Secret Service (9.5 out of 10) – Directed by Matthew Vaughn; Written by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn, based upon the comic book “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons; Starring Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Taron Egerton, Sofia Boutella, Sophie Cookson, Mark Hamill, and Michael Caine; Rated R for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content; 129 minutes.

This is, hands down, the best movie of the year so far. You will not have more fun in a movie theater than going to see “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” I personally haven’t had this much fun since Guardians of the Galaxy, and this has a lot in common with that movie.

Go see this. And if, for some reason, your Valentine’s weekend plans included going to see the awful “50 Shades of Grey,” just. don’t. Go see this instead.

The biggest reason is because this is a great, fun film. The second reason is that if you want to see a hardcore, R-rated Deadpool movie, you better believe executives from Fox are watching to see if ‘Kingsman” makes money. If it has a good opening weekend, you know the suits will give the green light to as much R-rated insanity as a Deadpool adaptation deserves.

“Kingsman” is the story of an independent secret spy organization, posing behind the front of a high-class tailor shop. The world’s top scientists, government officials, and celebrities keep disappearing. The Kingsman are not only investigating one of the world’s most influential tech/internet billionaires, Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson, sporting one of the most hilarious accents/speech impediments in a long time), but are also in need of new recruits.

Harry Hart, codename Galahad (Colin Firth) is sponsoring a street kid name Eggsy (Taron Egerton) whose dad was a former Kingsman. As he goes through the training, he also helps uncover the mystery behind what Valentine is up to, all culminating in, of course, a final showdown in Valentine’s mountain lair, complete with a ticking clock before he destroys all of humanity.

This movie draws from the best of the spy drama, with a self-awareness of what it is doing. In a climactic confrontation between Jackson and Firth, they riff on spy movie tropes, to which Jackson says, “Yeah, but this isn’t that kind of movie.”

And no, it is not. James Bond was never so ultra-violent. Jason Bourne was never so effortlessly cool.

And while the violence here is off the charts in terms of ridiculousness, it is also surprisingly bloodless (by design– and you’ll see why when you’re introduced to the character of Valentine in opening scenes)

Differences from the comic source material? In style and theme? Very little. In terms of specific plot? There’s plenty that’s been changed here, and all for the better. Yes, the film starts with the villains kidnapping Mark Hamill. But he isn’t playing himself. He’s playing a scientist. But it’s like Vaughn, having already practiced adapting comic source material in Kick-Ass and X-Men, now knows exactly how and what to translate to film.

This movie is, in many ways, what Matthew Vaughn has been building to his entire career. In many ways, this reminds me most of “Layer Cake,” starring James-Bond-before-he-was-Bond Daniel Craig. But Vaughn has also learned from adapting Millar’s work in Kick-Ass and Kick-Ass 2 exactly what to leave on the page and what to bring to the screen. The script sings along in its perfect plotting and character development in a way few films have since, well, Vaughn’s “X-Men: First Class.” And like X-Men, he’s taken the essence of the source material and made it into a great film. But, he’s finally able to cut loose.

Go see this. Several times. Once you see it, you will likely want to go again. Go ahead and indulge yourself. And bring your friends. It is totally worth it.

9.5 out of 10.

PS– here’s some Valentines from Valentine. . .  enjoy!