Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Pedro Pascal, Jeff Bridges
*Sigh* That’s probably the best way to describe how I felt about Kingsman: The Golden Circle. I really enjoyed the first film. Check out my review if you don’t believe me. The first Kingsman movie was a middle finger up at the already established Bond franchise and completely reinvented the spy action movie genre. It demonstrated that there’s still life in what is fast becoming a very tired genre.
Kingsman: The Secret Service had style, swagger and bags of attitude. The only problem I had with the first film was its final joke, which just felt out of sync with the rest of the movie. Well, Matthew Vaughn obviously heard those complaints and decided to step up the smuttiness by 110 percent in his follow up, Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
The sequel takes place a year after the events of the first movie and Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) is now a fully fledged Kingsman and has adopted his mentor’s, the late Harry Hart (Colin Firth), title of Galahad. Whilst on his way home, Eggsy is rudely ambushed by former Kingsman trainee, Charlie Hesketh, who now sports a bionic arm. A stupendous car chase through the streets of London ensues which results in Eggsy having to go through the sewers to make it in time for his date with his beautiful girlfriend, Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden, although covered in excrement. But she doesn’t seem to mind…
Oh, the Kingsman? Huh. That’s where you got all them fine suits and them fancy spectacles you got on.
Things become even more troublesome when Hesketh’s arm manages to hack into the Kingsman’s servers via Eggsy’s Black Cab computer network. Whilst Eggsy is desperately trying to impress his girlfriend’s Royal parents, the Kingsman organisation is totally and utterly obliterated through missile fire, leaving Eggsy and weapons expert Merlin the only two remaining members of the British secret service agency. They instigate the emergency protocol which puts them in contact with the American version of the Kingsmen, The Statesmen. Together, they have to figure out who is behind the attack and what their motives are.
It’s such a shame to say that I really didn’t enjoy Kingsman: The Golden Circle. From beginning to end something felt off. The dialogue wasn’t as witty and fast-paced as it was in the first film. The action sequences felt like there was far too much CGI and they didn’t actually look that good. And then there are the relentless sex jokes. The first film was funny and had a bit of this, yet Vaughn and The Golden Circle’s co-writer, Jane Goldman, have obviously decided to turn it all the way up with the smut.
I understand that there are people out there for whom this isn’t a problem, yet it got in the way of my enjoyment of the movie. It took me right out of it and kept on making me think: “Did they really need to do that?” The answer to which was often: “No. No they didn’t.” There’s a particular scene during the Glastonbury sequence which I really didn’t care for. You’ll know which one I’m talking about when you see it.
Manners… maketh… man. Let me translate that for you.
There’s also a particular cameo – don’t worry, it’s not a spoiler – from the legendary musician, Elton John, which ended up being far more than just a fleeting appearance. He’s basically a lead character, and I wasn’t on board with watching Elton try to act. It was funny at first and would have worked as a one-off thing, but he ends up being a rather big part of the film’s plot and kept on popping up, which in turn elicited a groan from me, and many of my fellow cinema goers.
The film’s strong points all lie with its cast. Taron Egerton is back and as brilliant as ever, although Eggsy doesn’t get too much in the way of character development. Mark Strong is once again perfect as Merlin, and the new Statesmen are all good additions to the franchise. That said, Channing Tatum is barely in the film, so if you were looking forward to seeing him strut his stuff, and his abs, then prepare to be disappointed.
I also enjoyed Julianne Moore’s turn as the film’s antagonist, Poppy Adams, who’s hiding out in her villain’s lair in the heart of Cambodia, which she calls ‘Poppy Land’. However, her character wasn’t fleshed out enough, even though Moore’s performance was note perfect. Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry were also wasted a bit, but it would be difficult to fully incorporate all the characters in a film that boasts such an impressive cast.
Welcome to Statesman.
However, the film’s real standouts for me were Colin Firth, returning as Harry Hart, and Pedro Pascal as Statesmen agent, Whiskey. They brightened up the film every time they were on-screen and I would have gladly watched more of them.
Yes, Harry is back, and yes, it does dampen the emotional impact of the first film. His return means that characters can come back willy-nilly, which detracts from your emotional investment in what’s going on. It means that whenever a character dies you’ll think, “It’s OK, because they can just put a band around their heads, which has some sort of clever gel-like substance that can heal head-shots.” OK, so maybe that way a spoiler, but I’m sure you catch my drift.
That said, I am happy they brought Firth back for the sequel because he’s really the best thing about this franchise. He’s just brilliant to watch. He’s elegant, eloquent, suave, sophisticated, and incredibly handsome. Maybe I have a bit of a Colin Firth crush (I do), but I also think his fight scenes are better than the rest. I just wish they would have cast him as Bond. Although if they had, we would have never seen him as Harry Hart, which would have been a disservice to cinema.
In the end, I came out of Kingsman: The Golden Circle with an overwhelming feeling of disappointment. There was so much promise, but unfortunately, it’s a case of, “I’m not angry, just disappointed”, which I think is much worse.