Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Chav Who Loved Me

If you like the occasional over-the-top action film, and who doesn't?, may we present Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014).

This is the story of Taron Egerton, known as Eggsy, a London kid being raised by his widowed mother in a London housing estate. But his father died in the service of the Queen as a member of the mysterious secret agency, the Kingsman. Now that he's grown up, Colin Firth shows up to offer him training to become a member.

Kingsmen are generally upper-class James Bond type spies. Their headquarters are in a posh tailor shop, everyone dresses in bespoke suits with expensive accessories (some weaponized). But Eggsy doesn't fit in. He is a "chav".

If you are familiar with the term, I apologize. It is considered offensive, with justification. It's a term for a type of lower-class Londoner, based on the flashy fashions they like: designer knock-offs, hip-hop bling, big baseball caps, etc. Counterfeit Burberry plaid is a favorite, but Eggsy doesn't go in for that. Word is that Burberry paid to be kept out of the movie.

Now "chav" probably comes from a Romany word for "kid", so there's some racism in the term, but mostly it represents the classist snarling of the respectable about the lower class dressing above their station. So I'm kind of ashamed to use it; the movie never does. But come on - the kid is a chav.

The Kingsmen (not the Louie, Louie guys) are represented by Colin Firth in full-on Harry Palmer drag, and Michael Caine himself as the top man. The trainees are all disposable upperclass twits and one cute girl, Sophia Cookson. The whole muddle in the middle dealing with class issues and character are a bit of a struggle, but it gets better.

The big villain in the piece is Samuel Jackson, wearing an odd hip-hop nerd couture and speaking with a lisp. He's a computer genius who plans to use his huge fortune to cure global warming - by killing off most of humanity by driving them into a killing frenzy. A test drive in a church with Firth leads to one of the best, most gruesome and funniest action scenes ever, with everyone killing each other in long takes and in slow mo.

Now, if you love the idea of a church full of bigots and a lone spy driven into a killing frenzy is your idea of fun, this movie may be for you. If you don't like the idea, or if confused politics and message bug you, you might want to stay away. After all: a black entrepreneur who kills in name of global warming and a lower-class hero who wins when he accepts his inner snob - it's pretty messed up.

And I didn't even mention Sophia Boutelle, the evil Bond girl - she plays a double amputee who kills with her sharpened blade leg prostheses. 

1 comment:

mr. schprock said...

I watched it with high expectations, and left trying to figure out what the fuss was all about.