9 February 2015

A Loose Bond

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So I went to see Roger Moore on stage recently and, as an obsessive Bond fan, I couldn't have been more excited. When I found out I had tickets, I was on the floor and wailing in the way that racists imagine foreign women do when their children are killed. I once applied for a Job at MI6 simply because of my love of the franchise and under the assumption that spies spend most of their time drinking, gambling and fucking women that have a history in the sex industry, or at the very least are a bit thick. Turns out they were looking for a person who was more into analysing data than ‘keeping the British end up’ which was a shame, and I'm sure it'll come as no surprise for you to learn that I didn't get the job. No idea how I didn't fulfil the criteria they were looking for though because I'm 6ft, British, slim, and even have the right coloured fucking hair. I mean, sure I probably failed every one of their online tests before blabbing to anyone who'd listen that I was applying for my licence to kill but fuck it, at least I'm not blonde!

Kingsman: The Secret Service was high on my list of films that I was jizzing to see and not just because it was from the creative team behind 2010's ball tinglingly brilliant KickAss. It tells the story of Colin Firth’s James Bond-esque secret agent as he attempts to foil the dastardly plans of Samuel L. Jackson who lisps his way through the film like a cross between Mark Zuckerberg and Sir Hiss from Disney's Robin Hood. Jackson is a genius billionaire who intends to control the world by giving away SIM cards that mean we never have to pay for our phones or internet access ever again.  Not to sound too shitty but I'm quite happy with my phone contract, although if he could do something to increase the battery life of my iPhone then fuck the consequences and count me in! Kingsman is a secret organisation that work free from the constraints of any government agenda and so intend nothing more than to maintain world peace. They're a bit like if the Masons stopped tweaking each others nipples for one night and instead indulged in a no-breaks James Bond DVD marathon that they never quite recovered from. At the same time as this, Firth's dapper gent is trying to mentor and recruit some young chav that he feels obliged to look after. It might sound like how the older boys treat the younger boys at Eton but here there's a little less class prejudice and at least a bit less buggery.

So is it any good? Was it worth me postponing my evening of non-stop crying and masturbation to leave the house and pay good money to see a film? Kingsman: The Secret Service was a gory, punk-like love-letter to the Bond franchise in which Colin Firth violently slaughters a church full of crazies to the tune of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Freebird and Mark Hammill even pops up with a British accent. Obviously it was worth the money. It was fucking amazing!!! Even if you didn't care for Bond, I'd be shocked to meet somebody that didn't enjoy this film. I mean, my Granddad wouldn't go and see something like this but that's only because he refuses to watch anything made after about 1957 and also he's dead. Other than that, it's one of the most fun movies I've seen in a long time and in a way I think that's its biggest selling point. It's fun. It aims to be an antidote to the solemn mood of 007's more recent outings and instead simply updates the big adventures of Roger Moore's more extravagant stories into the world of being a super-spy. Although, this one obviously also intends to do it with significantly higher amount of violence and bad language. It's sort of like a thirteen year old boy has been asked to write a secret agent story for homework and so has mischievously written this after falling asleep to The Spy Who Loved Me and having a wet dream.

In terms of films that have altered the course of the Bond franchise, many people will cite the success of Bourne and his daring to have some modern day relevance and angst as a turning point for 007, however I disagree. I don't think Bond became grittier to chase after Bourne but instead to simply get away from the effects of Austin Powers. I was actually kind of worried before seeing Kingsman: The Secret Service that this might happen again and the Bond franchise would be pastiche’d so completely that it'd be left with nothing to do but continue on like the guest of honour at a party where everyone thinks it's a wanker. Luckily this didn't happen as by instead focusing on the Moore years, this film simply provides an antidote for those people who lament the end of the Cold War and the days where masculinity took more inspiration from underwear models than it did the images of those posh blokes on toilet doors. Ironically in fact, the impact of Austin Powers can even be felt here with some of its Bond-ian riffs seeming a little familiar. I suppose both Powers and Kingsman share a knowingness when it comes to extravagant lairs and over the top villains. They both also clearly have affection for their older brother with the piss-taking being obviously through affection than malice.

The difference between Colin Firth's and Mike Myers' bespectacled spies is that out of the two, I think that Kingsman: The Secret Service would like to be seen as a legitimate spy franchise at the same time as deconstructing its peers. Whereas Austin Powers directly spoofs characters such as Blofeld, this one simply takes the template and creates its own over the top villains and mythology instead. Obviously, as well as Bond, there's also riffs on The Ipcress File, The Man From U.N.C.L.E and to some degree The Avengers. And by The Avengers I obviously mean the spy series about a dapper man with an umbrella and not simply another film to star Samuel L. Jackson. However at the end of the day, it's Bond who has the biggest legacy and who gets name checked here with the most frequency. The poster to the film too is an obvious nod to the one famously used for For Your Eyes Only as Colin Firth stands between a pair of woman’s legs with a huge gun barrel lowered to their side. Although in this case, those legs happen to be those running-blade things for amputees that makes me wonder how many people will have seen the poster and assumed it was an Oscar Pistorius biopic.

In many ways too it could be argued that this is the film that director Matthew Vaughn has been building towards throughout his entire career. He discovered that Daniel Craig should be the future Bond in his debut movie Layer Cake and then made an X-Men movie that felt like a super-powered version of Diamonds of Forever. Stick all that into one product whilst including Kick-Ass's rebellious and almost thrown-together feel and Kingsman: The Secret Service is basically what you'd end up with. Personally I'm quite the fan of Matthew Vaughn and although I don't think he's the greatest director of all time, I do admire the way he literally makes the exact film that he wants to. Even if they hadn't regained a single penny from production, the originality of films like Kick-Ass and Kingsman would likely be enjoyed for years to come as ‘that sort of cult movie’ that people can't believe that somebody had the balls to make. If I have any criticism, it’s that the films occasionally lad-ish sense of humour pays off with a final joke that's simply off the charts in terms of unacceptable misogyny. I understand that it could be seen as a tongue in cheek dig at the sexism in the Bond films but I don't think it is. When that joke lands, we're not meant to be laughing at the questionable politics of another franchise but simply the way that some women are fuckable, human-shaped lumps of meat. Other than that huge mistake, of bed-shittingly awful proportions however I do think this film was brilliant!

I suppose the only thing left to say is that the acting was all obviously great too. The depiction of the working class is a little on the Daily Mail side of things with them all being seen as drool-stained, beer swilling cunts but there's no ignoring the charm and likeability of lead chav Eggsy. I suppose an argument could be made for it being right-wing “bring-back-the-national-service” type propaganda bollocks. Mostly in the way that it suggests that all people of a lower income actually need is the mentoring of the upper classes to become decent human beings. However without going into spoilers, I suppose that they too learn something from him, and there's no denying that we're meant to be more appreciative of Eggsy’s no-bullshit attitude when compared to his competition’s pretentious appreciation of old drinks and a cold-hearted approach to getting the job done. All the actors whose names you've already heard are obviously as good as you'd expect with this almost being an alternate-dimension dream Bond cast - Firth, Cain and Mark Strong all acting suave whilst jet setting around the world before killing people and delivering a one liner? Not only does that sound fucking brilliant but this film delivers on that solid promise of all-out joy. However, huge credit too should rest on the shoulders of Taron Egerton whose Eggsy is basically the heart of this movie as well as our eyes in to this world. It's not as good as Kick-Ass and it doesn't have the weight of Bond but as a mix of the two, and misogyny aside, I loved every second. The inclusion of the chosen music with a head-poppingly hilarious and explosive conclusion is possibly also one of the funniest things I have seen at the cinema in a long time. Thanks for reading motherfuckers, and see you next time. 


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