ALWAYS A GENTLEMAN: I wanted to talk a little bit about Kingsman: The Secret Service. It's exactly what you'd expect--exceedingly stylized, ridiculously over the top, and blatantly a Matthew Vaughn movie, but what I found most interesting about it requires major spoilers, so will be after the break.
After a bravura fight sequence set to "Free Bird" (which IMDB claims was shot in just one take) involving Colin Firth taking out a church full of people driven crazy by a weird cell phone signal (work with me, here--it's a comic book movie), he exits the church and is promptly shot dead by Samuel L. Jackson (the film's villain)--boom, bullet to the forehead. Of course, my automatic assumption, having seen enough of these kind of movies, was that Firth would somehow be resurrected and show up in the film's final act to save the day (I figured he would be promoted to "Arthur," head of Kingsman, and that Eggsy, the new recruit we follow through much of the movie, would wind up taking his place). But nope--Firth's dead and we don't see him again.
Even more shockingly, for a film that pretty nakedly wants to start a franchise, the three most recognizable actors are all killed (Michael Caine turns out to be in on the villain's plot, and rather than being carted off to jail, Sam Jackson gets impaled with a razor sharp prosthetic leg--again, work with me here, it's a comic book movie). Heck, the only vaguely recognizable name to survive the film is Mark Strong, who's basically playing Q, leaving the franchise in the hands of two basically unknown young Brits. It's a gutsy move, and one that very cleverly subverts our expectations.