The Secret Service
kind of idea we'd all love to believe of the world: that somewhere out
there, there's a silent, clandestine, powerful band of do-gooders who are
courtly, mannerly, and also incredibly skillful in the struggle
against evil, without the slightest need for publicity or reward. A secret
organization that's largely invisible, or at the very least, hidden in plain
sight. OK, it's a comic book premise, so it's painted in such broad
strokes that there's little room for shading or ambiguity. But it's
imaginative and fun, even if a bit over-the-top in the personal violence
department. But though the bad guys drop like flies, their demise is
essentially bloodless. It's easy to imagine everybody getting back up
again after the Director yells "Cut!"
L. Jackson is also the bad guy, Mr. Valentine, who is also well-spoken,
mannerly, and even, in his own perverse way, persuasive. Well, he would
be, since he's offering free phone and internet connection to everyone forever.
There's just one hitch: it requires a little implanted chip, just below
the ear. Painless installation. Just a little scar that's hardly
this specially-programmed computer chip carries within it some mind-control
aspects that then allows the devilish Mr. Valentine to spread not love to
everyone, as his name would imply, but instead, chaos and mayhem. But even
that is, according to Mr. Valentine, actually done out of love for the world,
because if he turns all these stupid people against each other, and that trims
down the population considerably, well, it may be the only way to really save
the planet from overconsumption of its own resources. Not to mention improving
the gene pool.
the last century we had a couple of World Wars to thin the growing herd, but
that was long, drawn-out, and messy. Not to mention not available to all
segments of the population. This way, we have equal-opportunity
stands in the way of Mr. Valentine's nefarious doomsday device is the secret
Round Table of these modern Knights of the Secret Service, who call each other
names like Lancelot and Gallahad, but alas, there's no fair Guinevere, except
their own ideal of a safe and intact Mother Earth. And yes, the
unavoidable violence of their shadow work occasionally requires them to go
recruiting from the ranks of plebians, which in itself is an exercise in
nature/nurture: how does one determine who has "the right
stuff"? And how much does culture and breeding count toward finding
someone who's just genteel enough? Some say that class can't be taught.
Others say that money isn't what makes people classy, it's how they treat
others. Can this, too, be taught?
us who enjoy rooting for the underdog will delight in the rough-around-the-edges
intern, "Eggsy" (Taron Egerton) slowly rising to the top of his class,
like Harry Potter in the Hogwarts school, because of talent, yes, but also
because of a genetic pedigree he didn't know he had. But will he be
resourceful enough to overcome not only the external powers of darkness, but
also the bedeviling struggle within him?
expect Academy Award performances, or subtlety, or nuance. But here's a
kind of James Bond on steroids that unabashedly appeals to the bashing instinct
in all of us.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen is the
Parish Associate, Woodhaven Presbyterian Church, Irving, Texas