Kingsman: The Secret Service

Well-made and superbly cast

Colin Firth, cast against type, absolutely aces the role of Harry Hart aka Agent Galahad: the suave, quintessentially Connery superspy. He can mow down a row of thugs without rumpling his Savile Row suit (he did his own stunts). His umbrella is bulletproof. He and his hush-hush title cadre are going after a nefarious billionaire (Samuel L. Jackson, doing a lisp) while Hart mentors a promising young working-class hopeful (the promising young Taron Egerton).

This knowing postmodern homage/spoof of Bond-spawned gentleman spy thrillers is directed by the energetically edgy Matthew Vaughn, who gave us Kick Ass. So think a less-colorful Austin Powers with extreme violence. You can’t do a movie like this without Michael Caine (the M character), and Mark Strong’s in it too (the Q). Well-made and superbly cast. Worth seeing just for the acting.

But ultimately this is ideologically vapid, high-class multiplex fodder. It’s overlong and sags more than a little in the third act. The shock humor is effective but sometimes misses wildly—I certainly could have done without the church shooting. Such violence erodes the spirit of a spoof. I was amused, but not often enough. (128 min)