I am not saying I'm proud to have loved a movie when a dapper Colin Firth shoots, stabs, bludgeons, immolates and electrocutes about a hundred people while the guitar solo from "Freebird" plays on the soundtrack.
I'm only saying I did.
Matthew Vaughn's shamelessly amusing spy goof "Kingsman: The Secret Service" is bloody, crass, and snotty, and tramples all over one of my favorite genres, the British secret agent picture. And it does all this charmingly and so cheerfully, winking always in the audience, that I found myself won over.
Firth plays Harry Hart, code named a part of a secret society of international spies called the Kingsmen who operate out of the rear of a London tailor store and, Galahad, based on their bespoke pinstriped suits, probably get an employee discount card there. When one of their members drops, the surviving members find a possible replacement, normally an upper class Cambridge kind to fit in with all the posh mahoganyandleather environs of the Kingsmen.
But Harry has a long-standing debt to some Kingsman who died in the line of duty 17 years ago. So he finds his old colleague's son, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a cheeky working-class punk doomed to a life of petty crime, and recruits him for the work. Underneath the watchful attention of Merlin (Mark Strong), the Kingsmen's resident Q, Eggsy needs to outwit and outlast his snobby competitions for the work. (A tremor of class struggle runs throughout "Kingsman," literally exploding in the last act.)
He's also got one of the secret mountainside foundations which were out of fashion in spy films ever since "Austin Powers" made fun of them, along with a dilly of a henchman in Sofia Boutella, whose blade-like prosthetic legs can slice a man in half.
But while I loathed "Kick-Ass," finding it petty and mean, there's a giddiness to "Kingsman" that is much more appealing. The violence is so cartoonish as well as the characters are really so ridiculous that it's all just a joke, but one that we feel in on.
Eggsy looked like a character that was grating in the previews, but Egerton makes him very affable and human under his dime store bling. "Manners maketh man" is Harry's motto, which will be dry to get a film that has no manner at all, and still wins us over.