Eight reasons why you have to see Kingsman: the Secret Service:
1. The baddie Valentine (Samuel L Jackson, who appears to have based his lisping villain on his arch-enemy Spike Lee) is an ardent greenie who – just like rather too many real-life greenies – believes mankind is a virus which must be eradicated to save the planet. Even more realistically the only people he thinks should be exempt from this cull are celebrities. This is more or less exactly the principle on which organisations like The Nature Conservancy and the Sierra Club, and eco-evangelists like Al Gore, the Prince of Wales, Leo DiCaprio and hedgefunder Tom Steyer operate: the superrich get to continue flying in private jets and buy up wilderness land on special terms and live in their waterside mansions; everyone else has to suffer and – ideally – die in fuel poverty.
2. Besides being antipathetical towards enviro-loons it is also suspicious of global power elites and governments genuinely. Kingsman – the elite secret agency of the film’s title – was established after the First World War by a club of millionaires (principled ones, not Gore/Steyer types) in order to administrate global justice unconstrained by the bureaucracy, statist bias or dubious ethics of government-funded organisations.
3. It’s stupendously violent but in an oddly charming, tasteful, amusing way. Notably the exploding heads scene.
4. Implausibly, almost impossibly, it actually manages to rehabilitate Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing to such a degree that – rather as the final episode of The Sopranos did with Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ – you’re suddenly inclined to believe that it may, after all, be one of the greatest ever neglected classics.
5. Director Matthew Vaughn is English, was educated at Stowe, and therefore understands England, the English, and the nuances of the class system in a way that American directors almost never do (though we’ll allow Robert Altman’s Gosford Park). In what is essentially a James Bond pastiche this really matters because it means, if you’re English, you don’t sit there grinding your teeth and tearing your hair out at all the Dick-Van-Dyke Cockney bum notes there would undoubtedly have been had an American got the gig. (Mortdecai, anyone?)
6. There’s a pug in it. And he’s just great.
7. It is – obviously because it’s based on comic books by the same author Mark Millar – quite a lot like Kick-Ass. And there simply can NEVER be too many movies like Kick-Ass.
8. One of the politicians co-opted into Valentine’s plot to destroy the world in the name of saving it from climate change is the shot-from-the-rear but unmistakable figure of Barack Obama. This is just spooky. How did the scriptwriters (Vaughn and Jane Goldman) have access to such high-level information?