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Kingsman - The Secret Service: Super-Violent, Super-Fun British Spy Comedy
The only way to truly enjoy this latest homage to espionage-thrillers is to fully embrace the goofiness and the over-the-top antics it's got on offer. Directed by X-Men First Class' Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman: The Secret Service – a super-slick and a cleverly refreshing spy-movie send-up – is not without a fault. However, there is still plenty to enjoy.
Scripted from a comic series titled, The Secret Service, the story is centred on Gary 'Eggsy' Unwin (Egerton); a troubled twenty-something delinquent who, after losing his father at a young age, has grown up to be a street-smart and a directionless wise-ass.
With zero respect for the authorities, Eggsy – who believes that his father was killed in combat somewhere in the Middle East – continues to defy the law and soon gets into some serious trouble with the police. Luckily, he is soon rescued by Harry Hart (Firth); a leading member of an elite spy agency – a.k.a Kingsmen – an old acquaintance of his father.
Believing that Eggsy has got the makings of a true Kingsmen, Harry soon convinces him to join the agency. However, he first must undergo a series of tests and obstacles – overseen by the group's tech expert, Merlin (Strong) – before he can even be considered, while in the meantime, a super- dangerous threat emerges on the scene in the form of a billionaire tech guru named Valentine (Jackson), whose super conniving plan – involving a SIM card - must be stopped before it's too late.
Kingsman: The Secret Service just may well be one of the finest spy-thriller takeoffs on the popular – but seemingly dying – genre, whose deliciously-daring and R-rated cartoonish violence will keep audiences amused. Not everyone will find the violence welcoming but, Michael Vaughn – see Kick Ass, Layer Cake – has managed to find just the right balance, offering plenty of laughs and stylised action – the gadgets make for particularly fun viewing – to qualify a fun, easy and a stress-free viewing experience.
Bringing every inch of his charm and on-screen elegance to the table, Firth does a magnificent job as the almost charmingly aloof Harry Hart, while Jackson – sporting a tip-to-toe neon look and an awfully entertaining lisp – is a true scene stealer. However, it's Egerton who deserves most of the plaudits as the heart of the story and his scallywag-to-suave-spy arc is surprisingly satisfying.
Super-violent but super-fun, it's not all gags for Kingsman; there's a strory and there'ss a heart and even if it does go a little far with its ideas, the film still delivers.
On the surface, Robert Zemecki’s slick and a technically pristine WWII-set romantic-espionage-thriller looks like a winner. Boasting an impressive cast and a script by Peaky Blinders’ Steven Knight, everything about Allied points to success. However, although visually striking and overall satisfying in terms of action, it’s the film’s central story - the romantic pairing between Mr. Pitt and Ms. Cotillard – fails to ever really get going, leaving the film a little hollow and difficult to invest in.
Set in 1942, the story begins with the introduction of Canadian intelligence officer, Max Vatan (Pitt), who finds himself on a mission in Morocco with French Resistance fighter, Marianne Beausejour (Cotillard), who is to play the role of his wife during a covert operation that involves assassinating a high-ranking Nazi official. After successfully carrying out their assignment, the pair’s pretend relationship soon turns into the real thing with the duo soon marrying and welcoming a baby girl into the world, as they settle in war-torn Britain.
However, things are soon turned upside down for Max when he is informed by his by-the-books boss, Frank Heslop (Mad Men’s Jared Harris), that Marianne is currently under investigation and that she, in fact, may be a Nazi spy. Given seventy-two hours to prove her innocence before he will need to kill her, Max soon sets out on his own investigation.
Aesthetically, the film embraces an old-Hollywood approach, with a certain sense of nostalgic glamour and elegance present through the minutes. Told through a wonderfully slick lens frequent Zemeckis collaborator, cinematographer Don Burgess, there's a certain style and sophistication to every single frame. But while the film is pleasing to the eye and Steven Knight’s script boasts plenty of moments of suspense and intrigue, there‘s a serious lack of heart missing from the story, which turns the more passionate moments into melodrama.
In addition, the romance between the two leads is never really sold. Both Pitt and Cotillard definitely look the part and when they are not onscreen together, their performances are affective. However, it’s when they share the screen and viewers are asked to buy into their love story that it all goes south. Allied is a functional and an effective WWII spy thriller. It’s just not as captivating or engaging of a romance-drama that it sells itself to be.
Ludicrous, crass but also undeniably fun,Ted 2 - the sequel to Seth MacFarlane’s successful 2012 comedy, Ted –proves to be a more consistent and better drawn-out affair than its predecessor, even if the jokes – which there never seems to be a shortage of– don’t always land where they’re supposed to.
Picking up shortly after the events of the first film, Ted 2 is once again centred on best-buds and avid stoners, John Bennett (Wahlberg) and his talking teddy bear, Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) who, as it turns out, don’t seem to be living out their happily-ever-afters with the women in their lives. See, John has divorced the love-of-his-life, Lori (Kunis), and Ted, who at the beginning of the film shares his “I Do’s” with his human-bride, Tami-Lynn (Barth), is in constant clashes with his new wife.
Deciding that the best way to reconcile and put an end to all the bickering is to start a family, Ted reaches out to his best-friend for help; a decision which soon proves rather messy. However, Ted’s civil rights are soon called in to question by the government who wish to brand Ted as property as oppose to a living thing, leaving John and Ted with no choice but to turn to the rookie – and pot-loving- lawyer, Samantha (Seyfried) for some legal help in an attempt to prove that Ted is a living being with rights of his own. Hence the tagline ‘Legalise Ted’.
Endless pop-culture references and MacFarlane’s distinct brand of abstract toilet humour is once again the integral part of the story. While the first film lent most of its focus on Wahlberg and his romance with Mila Kunis – the actress was written out of the script due to her pregnancy with husband Ashton Kutcher – Ted 2 shifts the focus onto the talking teddy and his battle to be recognised, essentially, as a human.
The decision to shift proves to be a smart move, although the film does tend to take itself a little too seriously at times; in addition, Wahlberg – whose deadpan delivery is almost always spot on – seems to shine more in his secondary role.
Ted 2 is neither ambitious nor smart and its jokes are often offensive and pretty vulgar. Nevertheless, it’s a fun goofy kind of vulgarity that will ensure more box office success and probably even a third film.