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Plot Details: This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Miss Manners on Steroids

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015) on IMDb

Plot Overview

We cut from an automatic search program on a cassette player to the Middle-East, 1997. A helicopter ferries in two gunmen to take out the guards, then some rockets blast a desert compound. A voice on the radio broad­casts, “We have secured Falcon,” then they start a quickie interro­gation, but “Falcon” has other ideas (BOOM!) The team leader Harry Hart, aka Galahad, (Colin Firth) having (“Shit!”) “missed it” welcomes acolyte Lancelot (Jack Davenport) into the secret spy service known as the Kingsmen. Hart brings condolences to Lee's (Jonno Davies) widow Michelle (Samantha Womack) in London and meets her little son Gary, aka Eggsy, (Alex Nikolov) and offers to do him a favor some day.

Argentina, seventeen years later, Lancelot is doing surveillance on Professor James Arnold (Mark Hamill) who gets him­self kidnapped by a team of professionals (“Every­thing is clean.”) Lancelot intervenes and subdues them, but then he him­self is ambushed by a fleet-of-foot femme fatale who goes by Gazelle (Sofia Boutella). She lets her big boss Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) in the door who him­self has “no stomach for violence.” He lets others do his dirty work while he hatches schemes for world domination.

Back at Westminster the Kingsmen begin a “selection process for Lancelot's replacement.” At this time Eggsy (Taron Egerton), now in his early 20s, has called in that favor to get out of trouble with the law for having nicked a bloke's car. Hart takes him under his wing (“His father saved my life”), and nominates him as a Kings­man candidate. He sees in him an unfulfilled potential: “Huge IQ. Great performance in the Marines, but ya gave up. Drugs, petty crime, never had a job. It all went tits up.” We get to see whether “You can trans­form me like ‘'My Fair Lady'’” to “save the world” before the hostage goes tits down.


The watchword of Hart is [spoken slowly & deliberately]: “Manners maketh man.” Billionaire Valentine achieves instant popularity world­wide when he announces the free distribution of SIM cards compat­ible with every­one's cell phone, giving them: “Free calls. Free Inter­net. For every­one. Forever.” He comes across as a lover of humanity.

Prof. Arnold comes across as a bumbling intellectual unaware of any conspiracy that would provoke all this interest in him. He espouses a theory that the Earth is a living organism (called Gaia) that will seek to expel a damaging parasite on it's surface, namely Man. Valentine believes him and has plans to cull the herd (depopulate the world) before that happens.

Valentine needs to do a system test first, and he's chosen a “hate group” in Kentucky, at the South Glade Mission Church. They will get blamed for any mayhem that ensues. Its preacher is very vocal (“And I say to you …”) and the congregation very responsive (“Bear witness!”) as he deplores the government when it “condones sodomy, divorce, abortion.” The movie itself makes us sympathetic to: a princess in a dungeon who in desper­ation will commit sodomy to escape that dark hole, a widow who “want[s] my husband back”, and a harried mother who is thankful she didn't murder her crying baby from a locked room. To oppose “sodomy, divorce, and abortion” can be explained in terms of ordinary human sympathies with­out resorting to hatred, so the character­ization of them as a hate group is an over­reach. Their sermon America is Doomed and its discussion is nothing other than the robust debate that America's freedom of speech consti­tution­ally guarantees, there's no need to stigmatize it as hate speech. In fact there's even a biblical form of the Gaia theory when God commands men, (Lev. 18:22) “Thou shalt not lie with man­kind, as with woman­kind: it is abomin­ation,” and tells us, (Lev. 18:24-25) “Defile not ye your­selves in any of these things: for in all these … the land is defiled: there­fore … the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants.” In point of fact, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans right at the time of their Freedom Days parade glorifying homo­sexuality. It makes one wonder. At any rate a vigorous theo­logical debate is not so much different from the intellectual ramblings of a bumbling professor, but the former is stigmatized.

The signal sent over the modified cell phones is meant to stimulate aggression and reduce inhibitions. The real problem in that church was nobody turned off his cell phone for the service, being a lack of manners that “maketh the man.” Sound expert Seth S. Horowitz, Ph.D. has written: (108)

You're on a train or a bus, trying to read, sleep, or just not look at the guy across from you, but the person behind you keeps chat­tering into his cell phone. Whether he does it loudly or even just as a constant soft susur­ration, we still find listening to some­one's half of a conver­sation to be consis­tently annoying. A recent study by Laura Emberson and colleagues found out why, and it has to do with the dark side of attention. They discovered that while hearing a normal conver­sation was not signifi­cantly distracting, hearing a half conver­sation—a “halversation,” as they called it—caused a serious decrease in cognitive performance. Their hypothesis was that back­ground monitoring of unpredict­able sounds results in more distraction for a listener engaged in other tasks. Because you can't predict the direction of half a conver­sation, you get more unexpected stimuli, and thus more distraction.

This is consistent with Solomon's saying, (Eccl. 10:11) “Surely the serpent will bite without enchant­ment; and a babbler is no better,” and even the New Testament, (1Cor. 15:33) “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” The world is already a tense place. “Kingsman” was released nationwide 02/13/15, the day before Valentine's Day. Valentine is also the villain's name. In my review of the movie, "Valentine's Day" I pointed out the roots of Valentine's Day, how an Italian priest named Valentine married couples contrary to the Roman emperor's decree that forbad his soldiers to wed so he could have an undistracted fighting force. The priest was caught and on the eve of his execution penned a note to a supporter, signing it: ‘Your Valentine.’ There you had a conflict between church and state over marriage, and today in Kentucky is a similar conflict, but regarding same-sex marriages. The world is a tense place, it always has been, hate aside, and Valentine's global chart of cities lighting up—New York, London, Rio de Janeiro—as he activates their cell phones does not bode well for peace on Earth. “[O]ne thing that is consistent in studies of emotion using techniques ranging from nine­teenth-century psychology through twenty-first-century neural imaging is that one of the most important and fastest-acting triggers for emotion is sound” (Horowitz 113). This movie is a powerful promotion of manners, in particular the need to take our cell phone conversations to a private, not public, space, and to teach that to our children when we give them their own.

Production Values

“Kingsman: The Secret Service” (2015) was directed by Matthew Vaughn. Its screenplay was written by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn, based on the comic book The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. It stars Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, and Samuel L. Jackson. It looked like all the actors were having fun, but I can't really consider these serious roles; it was more a (skilled) spoof on the James Bond franchise. Jackson in particular fit the profile of a Bond villain: his speech was serpentine sibilant, his cocked cap made him look shifty-eyed, and he was black. Eggsy kept his cap brim pointed skyward to allow him an expanded visual field for when he practiced parkour. His sartorial style markedly improves with a tailored suit and he also loses that awful working-man's brogue. The music was energetic and the CGI dazzling. MPAA rated it R for sequences of strong violence, language and some sexual content.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

I generally don't like movies based on comic books; I find them flat, but this one wasn't as bad as some. I guess I was infected by the fun energy of the thing and didn't take it too seriously. I really don't like the distraction of the all too frequent cell phone conver­sations I'm forced to hear in public, so I'm glad to see a movie that addresses this breach of manners. I'm giving it a pretty high rating and recom­mendation, higher than I expected to.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Several suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Horowitz, Seth S., Ph.D. The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind. New York: Bloomsbury, 2012. Print.