OUT in Theaters: If Only Fifty Shades of Grey Could Do Hardcore Like Kingsman

Spoiler Alert: This film ends in anal sex.

No, I’m not talking about Fifty Shades of Grey (which by the way you only get to see Jamie Dornan’s ass … twice. Wait for Netflix). I’m talking about the actual good film hitting theaters this weekend, Kingsman: The Secret Service, which is hands down the most fun I’ve had at the theater all year. Yes, I know it’s only February, but if you ask me again in 6 months, I all but guarantee I’ll give the same answer. Kingsman is an absolute blast … and yes, the last scene of the film ends in some good ‘ol fashioned anal!

Kingsman introduces us to Eggsy (newcomer Taron Egerton), a street smart smart ass who lands himself in jail after quite the joy ride. Having received a literal “get out of jail free card” in his youth following his father’s death serving his country, Eggsy uses his one phone call and unknowingly summons posh “tailor” (cough, spy, cough) Harry Hart (Colin Firth, A Single Man). Harry was an associate of Eggsy’s father and feels responsible for his death, thus taking the troubled lad with problems at home under his wing (“like My Fair Lady,” Eggsy comments at one point) and reveals his secret identity as a member of Her Majesty’s Secret Service: The Kingsman.

After one of Harry’s comrades is killed attempting to rescue a kidnapped expert on climate change (Mark Hamill, Star Wars, who is not aging well at all), a seat is open at the Kingsman table of British super spies (led by none other than Michael Caine, Inception), and each current Kingsman is invited to put forth their own candidate for a replacement. Naturally, Harry selects Eggsy and it is here that the film, which benefitted from the duo’s sensational chemistry, takes a bit of a dip as Eggsy and Harry part ways.

Eggsy goes through a clichéd but wickedly fun series of problem-solving trainings to see if he has what it takes to become a Kingsman led by a taskmaster codenamed Merlin (Mark Strong, Sherlock Holmes). He gets everything thrown at him, from a literal wet dream (waking up in a flooding room) to team sky diving when one member lacks a parachute. Harry on the other hand, globetrots in pursuit of whoever killed his fellow Kingsman and to find out if it’s related to the string of kidnappings of world leaders and celebrities … of course it is. The path leads him to Steve Jobs-like tech billionaire Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson, Pulp Fiction, who’s earning his paycheck for the first time in years), a cartoonish mad genius bent on saving the world from itself by killing billions. Upon meeting, hero and villain have a very tongue-in-cheek conversation over some product placed McDonald’s in Valentine’s mega mansion while they discuss how needlessly serious spy movies have become. I couldn’t agree more, and luckily, Kingsman brings the popcorn-munching fun!

Like his Kick Ass did for the superhero genre, director Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class) has injected a spy film with enough insane violence, F-bombs, and Red Bull to completely reinvigorate the genre itself, crafting a feature that is far more smart, fun, and self-aware than it should be. Vaughn also has a gift for giving stars their big break (Sienna Miller in Layer Cake, Charlie Cox in Stardust, Aaron Taylor Johson and Chloe Grace Moretz in Kick Ass), and he has truly done it again. Handsome newcomer Taron Egerton is fit and charming, holding his own against the formidable Collin Firth (who is obviously enjoying every second playing the badass buttoned-up agent with the heart of gold) in this love letter to the spy films of old where the gadgets were cool, the missions were global, the schemes were diabolical, and the stakes were high.

The fate of the world is at stake as Harry and Eggsy rush to overtake the dastardly Valentine and his henchmen and henchwomen! One in particular, an amputee with powerbock knives for legs named Gazelle (Sofia Boutella, Monsters: Dark Continent), provides some fantastic fight sequences. Yet the scene everyone will be talking about sends Harry to a Westboro Baptist Church-like congregation in Middle America rife with homophobia, anti-Semitism, and racism, where karma intervenes and the most batshit breathtaking action sequence you’ll see all year breaks out amongst Harry and the congregation. Honestly, I am dying to watch that expertly shot action sequence—and the entire film—again. Do yourself a favor and avoid the softcore Fifty Shades of Grey this Valentine’s weekend and see the hardcore Kingsman instead.

Grade: A-

Now Playing in Philadelphia at: The Pearl Theatre @ Avenue North, UA Riverview Plaza Stadium 17, University City Penn 6, and UA Main Street Theatre 6