The moment in Skyfall (the most recent James Bond film) where 007 meets a fresh-faced Q for the first time must be one of the most disappointing scenes in recent cinema history. Giving the world-famous spy just a handgun and a radio transmitter, the Quartermaster leaves Bond feeling underwhelmed, prompting the response, “What did you expect, an exploding pen?”
Well, sort of, yeah.
As the Bond films have transitioned from camp to cheerless, the plots and action have become more intense, but the gadgetry increasingly dull. Where are the personal jet packs? The car/submarine hybrids? 007’s big screen outings may arguably be getting better, but it’s at the expense of Boys Own, future-gazing gadgetry.
Spectre may be looming on the horizon, but if you’re after spy gadgets to gawp over while you stuff yourself full of popcorn, it’s time to look beyond MI5 and to the Kingsmen:
Director Matthew Vaughn and comic book writer Mark Millar’s love-letter to the spy films of old, Kingsman: The Secret Service charts the rise of a teenage, would-be-serial-ASBO-collector as he comes under the tutelage of suave agent Colin Firth. It’s very funny, it’s very British and, having seen a preview screening, it’s a dark-horse contender for action flick of the year. It’s also fit to bursting with classic espionage gear.
So what’s slipped between the seams of the Secret Service’s Saville Row suits? Here’s a glimpse inside a Kingsman’s kitbag.
Bulletproof AR Umbrella
What with our dire weather patterns, what British gent would leave the house without a trusty umbrella in tow? They come none trustier than those issued to the Kingsmen. Bullet proofed, it’ll keep your clothes clean of bloodstains as well as rainwater, whilst its AR targeting system lets your fire off all manner of rounds from its tip, ranging from live ammunition to stunning bullets.
Electrified Sovereign Ring
Getting slugged by someone wearing a chunky sovereign isn’t nice at the best of times. Getting sucker-punched by someone wearing one that also delivers a 50,000 volt shock is going to be far, far worse. Might come in handy if you need a makeshift defibrillator, too.
So Bond’s got a gun that only he can fire these days? Big deal -- what the Kingsmen’s pistol lacks in security, it makes up for in wallop. As well as firing accurate pistol rounds, it can also fire off a wide shotgun spray, taking out a wave of foes that have sniffed you lurking around their underground lair.
Bulletproof Suit and Hidden Blade Shoes
"Oxfords, not brogues," a fashion rule to live by. And die by, for that matter -- each Kingsman’s footwear comes complete with a pop-out blade at the tip, coated in a fast-acting neurotoxin. It’s a good job that each agent’s suit is bulletproofed too then -- you’d get a nasty, short-lived surprise if these popped out after you’ve crossed your legs.
Augmented Reality Spectacles
2015 may well be the year that virtual reality goes mainstream, but as far as the Kingsmen are concerned, it’s an old future we’re looking forward to. Their augmented reality spectacles have just as much world-building potential as the Oculus Rift, but in far more fetching frames. It also lets the Kingsmen scope out enemy hideouts in advance, take Google Glass-like surveillance snaps and even have virtual meetings with operatives anywhere in the world, as if they were in the very same room.
Super Smart Watch
It’s not just Google Glass that the Kingsmen have leapfrogged, but smart watches too. Each operative is equipped with a timepiece capable of shooting out projectiles including sleep darts and a nifty set of magnetised bolas, pinning enemies to the nearest attractive object.
Ah; death by pen, a true spy classic. But this isn’t one of those stab-to-the-eye or exploding-pocket-paraphanalia numbers. It’s a little more sophisticated than that. Instead, the Kingsman’s pen syncs up with remote-activated poisons, letting targets ingest a toxin and have it eat away at their insides at a time of the agent’s choosing. Mightier than the sword indeed.
Kingsman: The Secret Service hits UK cinemas on 24th January for preview screenings, and 29th January for its nationwide release.