“Kingsman: The Secret Service”
There are a few things you should know going into this film. It’s the third film in a row Matthew Vaughn has directed based on comic books. The two previous were “Kick-Ass” and “X-Men: First Class,” both stellar adaptations.
This one is adapted from “The Secret Service,” basically James Bond on super-spy steroids. You also need to know about the curveballs. Normally, Colin Firth would be spouting ultra-romantic or mega-dramatic lines, but here, he’s spitting out one-liners and kicking ass.
Usual bad guy Mark Strong plays a good guy. Samuel L. Jackson plays a villain with a surprising tick.
And you’ve probably never heard of the leading man, Taron Egerton, who crushes it. Most importantly, this film is exceptionally British and remarkably brutal – it earns its R-rating. But it’s also extremely entertaining and worth a watch.
This is the third time filmmakers have combined the on-screen chemistry of Bradley Cooper with Jennifer Lawrence.
The script adapts Ron Rash’s sprawling novel about a depression-era timber baron in North Carolina. The novel is Shakespearean and deals with environmental themes and industrialization and classism, but it also deals with human things like love, betrayal and loss.
The novel is fertile soil for an epic film.
None of these resources are harvested in this movie, nor do filmmakers manage to harness any of the energy that Cooper and Lawrence have produced in past endeavors.
The talents of the supporting cast – Rhys Ifans, Toby Jones and Ana Ularu – are squandered.
Because the screenplay gets so far away from its source material, it becomes a skeletal mess, devoid of sensible resolutions, and the pacing feels like everyone involved just wants to be done with the whole thing. Tell “Serena” no, because this is a pass.
The script for this thriller has been floating around since 2009. It obviously picked up plenty of steam along the way, because filmmakers managed to secure one hell of a call sheet for a cast.
There’s young talent – Liam Hemsworth (“Hunger Games” franchise), Teresa Palmer (“Warm Bodies”) and Michael Stuhlbarg (“Boardwalk Empire”). There’s veteran talent – Billy Bob Thornton, John Malkovich, Oliver Platt and Bruce Dern.
The issue is the plot falls into a carbon copy of a Coen Brothers circa 1996. It’s been done plenty of times before but watching these veterans teach the youngsters is worth the price of admission.
Where it’s poor in twists and turns, it’s rich in acting skills. It’s not ground-breaking, but the combination of cookie-cutter Coen and the safety deposit box full of actors make this one barely worth a watch.