Kingsman: The Secret Service

Director Matthew Vaughn delivers another comic book adaptation in the vein of his 2010 hit Kick-Ass, full of bright surface pleasures and mean-spirited violence. A working-class thug in his early 20s discovers that his late father belonged to a secret crime-fighting organization; recruited by one of the old man’s colleagues (Colin Firth), he joins a mission to stop a crazy software entrepreneur (a lisping Samuel L. Jackson) from killing most of the world’s population. The filmmakers clearly sympathize with the villain as much as the heroes, encouraging us to delight in the murder and mutilation of Arabs, British proles, American religious fundamentalists, and a number of world leaders. Like a good comic book artist, Vaughn packs the frames with eye-popping detail, and there’s an infectious creative energy to his violent action sequences, but the film’s hatefulness is hard to stomach. With Michael Caine.