Kingsman: The Secret Service ★★★

2017 movie viewings, #146 and 147. Just one week into my new "Netflix for theatrical releases" MoviePass account, I've discovered a pretty major problem that I'm surprised didn't occur to me before -- there's simply not a whole hell of a lot of movies in the theaters on any given day that I actually want to sit down and watch -- a situation that came into sharp relief a few days ago, when I found myself between appointments in the Chicago Loop and with about four hours to kill between them, and discovered that the one and only movie within walking distance between those hours that I could stand the idea of watching was the secret-agent sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle, a film so off my usual radar that I barely even realized it existed before looking up that day's showtimes. And since I wanted to go in informed, that led to a hasty downloading on my phone of its predecessor, Kingsman: The Secret Service, which I watched at 2x speed on my way to the theater to see the sequel.

Not really a "parody" of spy films like so many have classified it, it's rather a straightforward and non-ironic actual spy-film series, just with all the details cranked up to 11 (much in the style of the now obscure "Flint" spy series in the '60s starring James Coburn, from which the "Kingsman" series clearly gets much of its inspiration). Unlike a lot of other Letterboxd members, I found myself not really minding the potty humor so much, accepting it as simply part of the weirdly clashing tone that veers wildly in these films between earnest drama, smart satire, and dumbed-down lad-mag scatology (there's quite literally nothing more annoying in this world than listening to frat-boy slang in another culture's language -- right, bruv?); but while I experienced a few legitimate chuckles along the way, and loved the central premise (that a group of bespoke tailors on Savile Row would start a billion-dollar non-governmental secret agency, just to keep a little class intact in the business of spying), I must admit that these films ultimately made just barely an impression on me after viewing, and that in another five years I'll have probably forgotten these films ever existed in the first place. That's not so bad when I'm only paying 75 cents apiece to see them, like is the case with my MoviePass account, and was primarily watching them just as an excuse to kill two hours while I was waiting for something else down the street to start; but it's also the very definition of "non-essential viewing," which you should keep in mind before renting these yourself.

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