Kingsman: The Secret Service

20th Century Fox

Rated R for profanity, sexuality and graphic violence

Colin Firth Shines As Suave Spy In Nostalgic Homage To 007

Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is such an unassuming, buttoned-downed bloke that no one in his right mind would suspect him to be a highly-skilled secret agent capable of killing at the drop of a derby. But as a Kingsman, he belongs to an exclusive fraternity of nattily-attired spies who abide by the motto “Manners Maketh Man.” Members of this covert organization consider themselves modern-day knights, and they see their suits as body armor.

Despite an otherwise distinguished service record, Harry still regrets the mistake he made during a 1997 operation in the Middle East that cost a colleague his life. Today, Harry hopes to make it up to his dearly departed partner by taking on his orphaned son, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), as a protégé.

This will be easier said than done since, besides completing the requisite Navy SEAL-like training program, the young apprentice has a lot of rough edges that need smoothing, including a grating cockney accent. For, the lad grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, so he could use a few lessons in etiquette, à la My Fair Lady’s Eliza Doolittle.

Meanwhile, a matter of more pressing concern comes to Harry’s attention, namely, a plot being hatched by a proverbial diabolical villain bent on world domination. That would be Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), a twisted tech mogul who’s in the midst of giving away billions of free SIM cards ensuring free phone calls and free internet access for everyone, forever. All over the planet, people are standing in long lines for the freebies, oblivious of an apocalyptic app they’re about to simultaneously download into their cells.

Adapted from the comic book series The Secret Service, Kingsman is an adrenaline-fueled satire of the espionage genre which, at every turn, will have you harking back to the early James Bond adventures starring Sean Connery. The picture was directed by Matthew Vaughn who co-wrote the script with Jane Goldman, the same collaborator on the equally-inspired Kick-Ass (2010).

Colin Firth is delightfully debonair, here, whether turning on the charm or dispatching bad guys. Samuel L. Jackson is just as amusing cast against type as his worthy adversary with a flamboyant persona complete with lisp. A nostalgic homage to 007 that’s also the most mesmerizing movie of the year thus far.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

In English and Swedish with subtitles

Running time: 129 minutes

 

 

3 Nights In The Desert

Monterey Media

Rated R for profanity and sexuality

Intriguing Romantic Romp Revolves Around Musical Trio’s Awkward Reunion

At 20, Anna (Amber Tamblyn), Barry (Vincent Piazza) and Travis (Wes Bentley) were members of a rock & roll trio with high expectations. But that was before the band broke up and each went their separate ways a half-dozen years ago.

In the interim, they’ve become estranged from each other. Anna made her way to Europe where she became something of singing sensation. Meanwhile, drummer Barry abandoned the dream of superstardom for the conventional path of becoming a lawyer, marrying and settling down in the suburbs to start a family. And guitarist Travis, a purist who never sold out, is still a struggling artist living in the desert.

But since they share the same birthday, and they’re all about to turn 30, Travis decides it’s time to bury the hatchet. So, he invites them to spend the weekend at his desolate lair hoping to orchestrate a reunion and maybe even regenerate some of the group’s musical magic.

Unfortunately, Travis forgot about the unresolved romantic tensions which contributed to the breakup, given how Barry had an unrequited crush on Anna who, in turn, had one on him. And the three find out how quickly those unresolved feelings can resurface upon reconvening, especially if isolated in very cramped quarters.

Directed by Gabriel Cowan (Growth), 3 Nights In The Desert is an intriguing, character-driven drama which unfolds in thoroughly compelling fashion. The picture works because each of the protagonists is complicated, having both strengths and flaws that are readily identifiable.

If the aim of the picture is to trigger introspection in an audience about the consequences of the choices one makes in life, then bullseye!

 

Very Good (3 stars)

Running time: 83 minutes

 

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening February 13, 2015

 

Fifty Shades Of Grey (R for profanity, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity and perverse behavior) Screen adaptation of E.L. James’ steamy romance novel revolving around the sadomasochistic adventures of a literature student (Dakotta Johnson) under the spell of a wealthy businessman (Jamie Dornan). Supporting cast includes Jennifer Ehle, Luke Grimes and Rita Ora.

 

Crazy Bitches (Unrated) Horror comedy about seven sorority sisters whose weekend getaway with a gay pal (Andy Gala) to a remote cabin in the woods is ruined by the arrival of a bloodthirsty psychopath who proceeds to pick them off one-by-one. Co-starring Samantha Colburn, Cathy DeBuono, Liz McGeever, Victoria Profeta, Guinevere Turner, Nayo Wallace and Mary Jane Wells.

 

Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus (Unrated) Spike Lee directed this horror flick ostensibly inspired by Ganja & Hess, the 1973 horror flick revolving around a doctor (Stephen Tyrone Williams) who becomes consumed by a thirst for blood after handling an ancient African artifact. Ensemble includes Zaraah Abrahams, Rami Malek, Joie Lee, Felicia “Snoop” Pearson and Elvis Nolasco.

 

Gett: The Trial Of Viviane Amsalem (Unrated) Ronit Elkabetz portrays the title character in this Israeli drama as a miserably-married woman dependent upon a rabbi’s approval for a divorce from her reluctant spouse (Simon Abkarian). With Menashe Noy, Sasson Gabai and Rami Danon. (In Hebrew, Arabic and French with subtitles)

 

Girl House (Unrated) Slasher flick featuring a college coed (Ali Cobrin) who starts stripping online for an X-rated website to pay her tuition only to find herself being stalked by a deranged fan. Cast includes Adam DiMarco, Alyson Bath and Alice Hunter.

 

The Last Five Years (PG-13 for sexuality, brief profanity and a drug image) Screen adaptation of Jason Robert Brown’s Off-Broadway musical of the same name deconstructing the failed marriage of a promising novelist (Jeremy Jordan) and a struggling actress (Anna Kendrick). With Meg Hudson, Natalie Knepp, Cat Lynch and Ashley Spencer.

 

Old Fashioned (PG-13 for mature themes) Faith-based romance drama revolving around a reformed party animal (Rik Swartwelder) willing to remain celibate while dating his impatient new neighbor (Elizabeth Roberts) who might be Ms. Right. Cast includes LeJon Woods, Tyler Hollinger, Dorothy Silver and Nini Hadjis.

 

The Rewrite (Unrated) Romantic comedy revolving around an Oscar-winning scriptwriter (Hugh Grant) who, after a divorce and a series of flops, abandons Hollywood to teach college in upstate New York where he falls in love with one of his students (Marisa Tomei), a single mom trying to make her own fresh start. Ensemble includes J.K. Simmons, Allison Janney and Chris Elliott.

 

What We Do In The Shadows (Unrated) Horror comedy, set in New Zealand, revolving around the trials and tribulations of four vampires (Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Jonathan Brugh and Ben Fransham) sharing a flat in a city inhospitable to the undead. With Cori Gonzalez-Macuer, Jackie van Beek and Stuart Rutherford. (In English and German with subtitles)

 

The Worst Year Of My Life (Unrated) Romantic dramedy about a down-on-his-luck, just-dumped, depressed dude (Trevor St. John David) whose road to recovery involves online dating and living in his car. Cast includes Brandi Posey, Nicholas Tucci and Amy Vorpahl.

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