Posts Tagged ‘spy’

Poster

I don’t understand the appeal of Matthew Vaughn movies.

His relatively short directing career: Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and Kingsman.

Is there a good movie among them?

I’ve never watched Layer Cake, but it might be his best work. Stardust was an atrocious, unwatchable bomb. Kick-Ass is the most celebrated, but it was an overhyped turd that would’ve been unwatchable without Nicolas Cage. James Gunn’s Super was superior with better characters, writing, and acting. X-Men: First Class was occasionally interesting but still boring despite being an origin story for an iconic superhero group. All of these movies are either approaching 2 hours or even longer.

Someone needs to take a machete and start hacking away at the superfluous bullshit. Matthew Vaughn makes good use of visuals, but there is absolutely nothing beneath the surface. Kingsman is no different.

I get it, Kingsman is supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek take on the spy thriller genre. Trust me, there are enough references to James Bond to make you painfully aware that this is a parody of its overly serious tone. I’ve never cared about any 007 movie, which is a sure sign that this probably isn’t my type of movie.

Colin Firth

Colin Firth is fantastic as Harry Hart—codename Galahad—who is a select member of the secret spy organization responsible for stopping all major crimes around the world. However, Harry is perpetually scarred after his Kingsman recruit jumped on a bomb to save his life. Harry even delivered a bravery medal to the man’s wife and son with a hidden message that basically serves as a Get Out of Jail Free card should the young lad find himself in trouble.

That kid’s name: Gary “Eggsy” Unwin. Why is his nickname Eggsy? No fucking idea. Maybe it’s the actor’s name, but he’s Eggsy for the whole movie. I guess it’s a British thing, but it would be nice to know why.

Naturally, there’s an occasion where that Get Out of Jail Free card comes into play since the young kid turns into a slightly older teenage shithead with a penchant for dumb, dangerous decisions. Kingsman thankfully picks up the pace once Harry bails Eggsy out and starts his journey auditioning to become a Kingsman—replacing the recently murdered Lancelot.

Don’t expect this to be a breezy viewing. You feel every second of this 2-hour endurance test.

Eggsy

Taron Egerton is serviceable playing the role of Eggsy, but the movie falters when Egerton is asked to carry the third act. There’s a reason he’s only been on a British TV show before this movie. Apparently, Egerton was the last actor cast in the movie. But I don’t blame Taron Egerton because it is the story that failed him. In an ideal world, this is a brisk 90-minute movie that highlights the action and tightens the script to remove all the unnecessary fluff.

Kingsman is so self-aware and reliant on spy references that it fails to realize its own faults. For a movie that eschews the typical spy conventions, Kingsman itself is pointlessly complicated and convoluted with the villain’s plan for world domination. Samuel L. Jackson plays Internet billionaire Richmond (get it, Rich?) Valentine—who has a desire to hit the reset button on humanity in order to save Earth from the devastating result of human-induced global warming.

Samuel L

Samuel L. Jackson isn’t great, but his performance is memorable even if the rest of Kingsman is completely forgettable. For the record, I’m fine with Valentine’s lisp. The decision was apparently all Samuel L. Jackson’s doing, which is incredibly ballsy but it works well with how the character despises violence and physically cannot stand the sight of blood.

Even if you don’t take Kingsman seriously, it is impossible for me to ignore the awful story and unforgivably bad ending. The third act is so unspeakably awful that it almost ruins my enjoyment of everything else. Part of Valentine’s plan involves surgically implanting a device into the necks of those who give into his demands. Disregard the fact that the surgery leaves a very visible scar and technological interference can cause the implant to explode and kill the person.

Yes, you read that correctly: you can tell who exactly is a participant in this super-secret evil plan just by looking at their neck for a scar. No, Richmond Valentine isn’t a buffoon. He’s billed as a genius tech billionaire. Valentine just happens to have a detailed, precise plan for world domination that is built on a foundation of popsicle sticks. The story is incredibly flimsy and the ending makes everything up to that point feel utterly pointless. I get it, but I don’t get it.

Find something better to do with your 2 hours. Definitely check out the ultra-violent, awe-inspiring church scene on YouTube or somewhere else, but you don’t need to sit through everything else. About half of this movie works and the other half falls flat. Let’s just hope beyond hope that there isn’t an unbearable sequel to Kingsman in the works. There wasn’t enough story for one movie, let alone two.

Don’t mistake a good-looking movie for a good movie.

There is a difference, I’m just not sure if Matthew Vaughn knows that yet.

Steam

2.5 out of 5 stars

Advertisements

Poster
I don’t like Benedict Cumberbatch’s face. His name alone induces yawns of boredom.

After looking at his IMDb page, I’ve mostly avoided his movies aside from limited roles in Four Lions, 12 Years a Slave, and the voice of Smaug in The Hobbit. Clearly, Cumberbatch is talented, but he hasn’t found the appropriate leading vehicle. Until now with a perfectly suited starring role in The Imitation Game.

Cumberbatch makes this movie compelling with his performance as Alan Turing, a British cryptanalyst tasked with breaking Nazi Germany’s infamous Enigma code. Cumberbatch’s presence is felt in every scene even though his character isn’t the loud, audacious type. Essentially, Alan Turing is played as a troubled genius with extreme social issues. Michael Fassbender is the only other actor I can imagine pulling off this captivating performance to make a rather bland biopic spy thriller story tolerable.

In an attempt to inflate the degree of story-telling difficulty, director Morten Tyldum juggles three separate timelines in The Imitation Game. In 1951, police are investigating a break-in at Alan Turing’s home and he starts to discuss his work in the military during World War II. In 1927, a young Alan Turing is being relentlessly bullied at boarding school and his only friend is a classmate named Christopher. In 1939, the heart of the movie focuses on Turing’s involvement in Britain’s effort to decrypt the Enigma code.

Top Secret Team

Traveling through these different decades is an interesting decision, but it’s an odd self-imposed obstacle that doesn’t always work. The aesthetic choice to leave Cumberbatch’s appearance basically unchanged from 1939 to 1951 is bewildering. A little old age make-up would have done wonders to clarify the time period because it’s not always immediately clear, which becomes increasingly distracting.

The most egregious aspect of this movie is how much it is in love with its own writing. The following line is repeated three times by different characters: “Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.” Each time it comes off as sentimental mugging for the camera. You don’t need to insult the audience by telling people how to feel—particularly with an annoying score.

Despite fumbling a few parts, The Imitation Game is a well-crafted movie that whisks by for an hour before the train starts losing momentum. In my opinion, the train completely breaks down and dies on the tracks during the plodding third act. The Imitation Game isn’t a great movie, but it’s not bad either.

Keira Knightley

Unfortunately, there’s not much to this movie except for Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance—which is critical since you’re with his character in every scene. The supporting cast has some good actors with Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear, Mark Strong, and Charles Dance. But these talented people are largely wasted because their characters are rather unimportant without any memorable moments.

The Imitation Game will not win Best Picture at this weekend’s Oscars, but I’m not outraged at its nomination. However, the award campaign’s attempt to capitalize off of Turing’s sexuality appears in poor taste since the movie itself isn’t oriented around gay rights. There’s no need to run away from The Imitation Game, but it’s an interesting movie that I will never watch again.

Running

3 out of 5 stars