Always meant to give MI-5/Spooks a look but never got around to it while it was on. Might still try it one of these days.
A friend of mine used to work for a big American company that would bring in famous speakers to give a talk to the assembled employees and one time it was Tom Clancy: my friend, who is ex-military (Canadian) and I'd say pretty middle-of-the-road politically, said that Clancy came across as this really crazed far-right-wing nut job, far more extreme than he had expected from reading his books. That kind of turned me off trying them, not so much because of my distaste for that kind of political attitude (which in a less extreme form is very common in the espionage genre as a whole) but because he sounded surprisingly stupid, apart from his political values.
Post by codystarbuck on Dec 5, 2019 17:51:02 GMT -5
Last time, I said I would finish up with Kingsman and and The Man From UNCLE film. Well, I forgot I already covered the film with the tv series; so, we will skip that, especially since we aren't likely to get sequels. Shame,really, as it was pretty darn entertaining, unlike Bond.
Kingsman grew out of a conversation about that very thing. Mark Millar and producer/director Mathew Vaughn worked together on the film adaptation of Kick Ass (derivative idea that succeeds only on Nick Cage channeling Adam West, if you ask me). They were talking about the Bond films and lamenting how they missed the old days of fun and glamor, not to mention other spy series, like The Avengers. That led to Millar collaborating with Dave Gibbons on the comic book series, The Secret Service.
Meanwhile Mathew Vaughn developed the idea into a film. The plot of the two are basically the same, though they vary quite a bit in execution of the story. Vaughn called his version Kingsman: The Secret Service.
The premise is that Kingsman is a secret intelligence organization, founded in the wake of WWI, and operating from behind the facade of the Kingsman tailoring shop. It's members all carry the names of Knights of the Round Table and their leader is called Arthur. One of the agents, Galahad, is on a mission, when a subordinate, Lee Unwin is killed. Galahad delivers a medal to his son, Gary, with a number to call, in an emergency. Gary, of Eggsy, as he is known, grows up and tries to join the Royal Marines, but drops out of training. He becomes a stereotypical "chav," (a term used, often as an insult, to working class urban youth, particularly those who partake in UK hip-hop culture). Eggsy and his mates drink in pubs and get into petty larcenies and fights. Eggsy demonstrates his skills in parkour in escaping some larger enemies, as well as driving abilities in a stolen car. However, he gets arrested by the police and calls the number on the medal. That brings in Galahad, who introduces him to the world of Kingsman and the possibility of becoming an agent. During training, we meet other candidates and Merlin, the training officer. Eggsy is assigned a pup to raise and undergoes a series of training exercises, designed to test the candidates skills and ability to improvise at the drop of a hat. Eggsy excels, but fails when he refuses to shoot his dog (the gun had blanks).
Meanwhile, tech entrepreneur and philanthropist Richmond Valentine, who is about to offer the world free sim cards for cell phones, allowing free phone and internet access. Inreality, they contain chips that activate a signal that causes violent behavior in the receiver, who then tear each other apart. Galahad investigates and traces things to a right wing church, which turns out to be a trap and the signal is activated and Galahad has to fight the enraged crowd, only to die. Eggsy discovers that Arthur is part of the scheme and contacts Merlin and pal Roxy, the graduate of the training program. They set out to stop Valentine, who has also kidnapped the crown princess of Sweden. Eggsy defeats Gazelle, Valentine's aide and assassin (a woman with prosthetic "blade" legs, which are actual sword blades). They defeat Valentine in the nick of time and Eggsy is rewarded by the Princess and becomes the new Galahad, at Kingsman, while inheriting the old one's home.
The film is a comedy-adventure and great fun, though with a penchant for over-the-top violence. The church fight is especially violent and was later used by Trump supporters for propaganda purposes, which even the Orange One distanced himself from. Taron Egerton plays Eggsy as a smart, talented young man, with a self confidence issue. At the start, he is bullied by his mother's boyfriend and his mates; He later kicks their asses, after being made a Kingsman. Egerton gives it the right balance between emotional performance and tongue-in-cheek comedy, a talent that would further serve him as Elton John, in Rocketman. You can't help but like Eggsy and root for him. He is grossly underestimated because of his background; but, Galahad's faith in him helps him find those talents and self confidence to succeed.
Colin Firth is Galahad, playing him as a bit more physical John Steed, after whom the agents are modeled. He is impeccably dressed and has perfect manners, while using his umbrella as a weapon. Mark Strong is Merlin and gets to play a more fun character than his rather cliched villains in Kick Ass and Shazam. Michael Caine, the former Harry Palmer, gets a cameo role and Samuel L Jackson plays Valentine, mixing in people like Russell Simmons, Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Dr Dre. He gives the character a slight lisp, to help make him seem less threatening. Jackson plays up the intelligence and ruthlessness; but, we see that he is sickened by the violence required. he seeks to cull the world's population to make the planet more sustainable (much like Ra's al Ghul). Sophie Cookson is Roxy, Eggsy's Kingsman pal and Sofia Boutella is the assassin Gazelle. He scenes are done using green screen wrappings on her legs and using CGI to paint on the blades.
The film was a success at the box office and had mostly good critical response, with some criticism for the level of violence and the crown princess's offer of anal sex as a reward for Eggsy rescuing her. On the whole, though, the film was no more offensive than the worst of Bond and the level of violence was no different than modern Bond and generally played in an over-the-top manner that is hard to take seriously.
A sequel was inevitable and soon followed.
Kingsman is destroyed by a missile. Eggsy must go into hiding and is directed by Merlin to their US counterpart, Statesman. He travels to their HQ, hidden within a distillery, in Kentucky. Their leader, Champagne, introduces Eggsy to his top agents, Whiskey, Tequila and Ginger Ale. He also finds a surprise there. The attack on Kingsman was orchestrated by a drug ring, led by the eccentric Poppy Adams, who lives in her private, seudo 1950s town, where she holds Elton John prisoner, forcing him to perform his 1970s hits, nightly. She has developed a toxin which is transmitted through narcotics and blackmails the world to force the POTUS to end the War on Drugs. They try to quarantine the victims, but the POTUS is content to let them die. Eggsy locates an antidote and he tracks down Poppy, the villain's lair and fights his way in to stop her.
Taron Egerton and Mark Strong return, while Julienne Moore joins as the villain, Poppy, a seemingly All-American fantasy woman, surrounded by chrome decorated diners, big hamburgers and kitsch. Elton John plays himself and appears to be having a ball. Jeff Bridges is Champagne, the head of Statesman and Channing Tatum is Agent Tequila. Pedro Pascal is Whiskey and Halle Berry is Ginger Ale (sort of Merlin's counterpart).
This was also pretty good, though not as entertaining as the first film. The early parts are a bit much and Statesman comes across as a bit much "been there, done that," after the intro to Kingsman, in the original. Pedro Pacal keeps it interesting. Julienne Moore plays the psychotic nature and Mrs Cleaver facade of Poppy well, and is pretty scary, in a fun way. Elton John even gets a fight scene.. It's all in good fun.
It did well and probably helped land Egerton the role of Elton John, in Rocketman, which he crushed. A third Kingsman is soon to be released, a prequel, called Kings Man
The film features the birth of Kingsman and has Ralph Fiennes Harris Dickson, Gemma Arterton, Djimon Hounsou, Rhys Ifans (as Rasputin), Stanley Tucci and Charles Dance. Taron Egerton is not in it, since it is set in the past; but, says he is still involved for future Kingsman films. This one looks good, based on the trailers and future films may continue to provide us the fun that Bond has lost.
And, with that, I wrap up my look at spy-fi. We haven't covered everything; but, I think we hit the highlights.