This is an odd movie that is a cheeky homage to the goofy antics of the gadget-heavy Sean Connery/James Bond era, combined with an old school coming of age tale. All surrounded by witty dialogue, excellent acting, and a kind of bizarrely gleeful over the top violence that is reminiscent of Quentin Tarantino in his heyday.
Does that sound appealing? Even if it doesn't, don't let that stop you from checking this one out. This is a fun movie, even with its quirks and occasionally uneven storytelling. What's not to love when an over the top spy movie actually critiques its own plot twists in comparison to what would happen in a James Bond flick?
The tone of the film is set during the opening moments as the credits are literally rolled onto the screen from the debris of a building being bombed, set to classic rock and roll. The wit continues from there, and the tone stays mostly consistent throughout. All the players are quickly established, and the story moves along fast enough that even the breaks in action are never boring. It helps that the dialogue is sharp, and the set designs have a lovely retro feel that draws the audience into the world.
But it's the acting that really makes the film. Taron Egerton (Eggsy), pulls off a very likable lead who has a nice character arc, even while wearing an outfit that makes him look absurd. Sofia Boutella (Gazelle) is particularly effective as the main henchwoman of the main villain (Valentine), who also just happens to have razor sharp blades in place of her prosthetic legs. Sophie Cookson (Roxy) is basically the straight woman, but she still stands out as sympathetic and competent, even if she doesn't get as much to do as I would've liked.
Michael Caine (Authur), Mark Strong (Merlin), and Jack Davenport (Lancelot) all clearly have fun playing the secondary characters, each serving the plot and stealing the scenes they are in. Samuel L. Jackson (Valentine) is a hoot as a corporate villain that doesn't like violence. He was so much fun that at times I was almost rooting for him (well not really, but I actually liked him as a character despite his intentions).
But the real star of the show was Colin Firth (Galahad). He sold the world and made even the expository moments feel important. Not only that, but he somehow emerged as an action hero. Seriously, Mr. Darcy kicks some serious ass. He is just as much fun, if not more, than the rest of the characters. He is the guide, mentor, and one of the main heroes of the film and I honestly cannot imagine anyone else in the role.
There were also some fascinating special effects that had me both rolling on the floor laughing as well as feeling unsettled. There was also a four minute action set piece that takes place in one of those ultra right wing monstrous churches that spout hate for the sake of hate, that left me smiling from ear to ear. The only negative I can mention is that the end was wrapped up a little too quickly. The fallout from everything, good or bad, wasn't sufficiently resolved for my tastes.
But that's one small quibble, and I'm not going to hold it against the film because it was otherwise a very entertaining experience. It delivered what I hoped it would, and made me want more. I can't really ask for more.
Arthur: (Asking about Eggsy's dog) "What's his name?"
Arthur: "As in James Bond."
Arthur: "Jason Bourne."
Eggsy: "Jack Bauer."
3 out of 4 Bullet Proof Umbrellas.
J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related. He reviews Arrow and Farscape and cool new movies that strike his fancy.