The much-anticipated sequel to the 2014 surprise smash hit Kingsman: The Secret Service has arrived. Having dispatched the villainous Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) from the last film, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) now must team up with Merlin (Mark Strong) to combat Poppy (Julianne Moore). Poppy is the perennially “happy” villain living on a plot of land in the middle of the jungle decked out as a 1950’s town. Complete with the local diner, movie theater, shops it actually is the headquarters for her world-wide drug operation. Once a large part of the world’s population has been infected with a virus in the drugs they use, Poppy has made an antidote. She will release the antidote only after the world leaders led by the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood) meet her list of demands. What are her demands? I don’t remember. Don’t worry you won’t remember either and by the film’s end it won’t matter
Kingsman: The Secret Service was a fine film. Fun, exciting with some great laughs and solid acting. There was a story in that one that people connected with and the action was simply terrific. This was a sort-of spoof of the James Bond films and it was a treat. Kingsman: The Golden Circle expands on the original premise but it is a case of overkill. This latest film is just too much. The very first opening action sequence had no less than two instances in which Eggsy is able to defy gravity and induce an eye roll from me. Oh, it is fun, but the charm of the original has been greatly reduced.
When the Kingsman headquarters and several safehouses are destroyed by Poppy (don’t worry I have ruined nothing since this all happens in the first fifteen minutes of the film), Eggsy and Merlin discover their American counterpart organization in America, The Statesman. Led by Champ (Jeff Bridges) the Kingsman have full access to all of the gadgets and funds to bring Poppy down. But rather than delve into the Statesman and get some mileage out of it for the film’s story, it is barely touched on. Characters like Ginger (Halle Berry), Champ (Bridges) and Tequila (Channing Tatum) are largely wasted. Only Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) is given any backstory and he is indeed a rather fun character. Elton John (yes, THAT Elton John) has a rather large supporting (larger than you would think) playing himself, of course, who is also a captive of Poppy’s. He is actually a rather bright spot in this film, more so than I thought.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is loud, abrasive and way over the top, but I still had fun with it. The plot is convoluted and has too many cuts to other locales in the world that don’t seem to add much to the story. But still, I did not seem to mind too much and for those who want to know if Harry (Colin Firth) is actually still alive as shown in the trailers….sorry. This is a spoiler-free review. Visually, The Golden Circle is beautifully shot and the film’s frenetic pacing and ultra-loud sound design will make it almost impossible to fall asleep. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what kind of time you are having with this film. For me, it worked, albeit, barely.
The score by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson is very complimentary to the action but it also has some more tender moments as in one of the first scenes where Eggsy tearfully and fondly remembers Harry. But these quieter moments give way quickly to over the top action sequences which employ lots of slow motion and quick cut editing. The script, penned by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn does not break any new ground with revelations of different characters but it does have some clever laughs that are sprinkled throughout the film. But Vaughn who also directed knows what makes these films work and that is the action and there is plenty of it. The story is a bit worn, but despite the flaws of Kingsman: The Golden Circle and there are plenty, I still came away having had some fun. I mean any film that shows Elton John kicking butt in a peacock outfit can’t be that bad.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle – *** out of 5
Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Rated R for language, gore, violence, nudity and sexual situations
Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Run Time is 141 minutes
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is now playing in theaters. Check your local listings for times and locations nearest you for availibilty.