Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
SHOULD I SEE IT?
Fans of the 2015 Kingsman: The Secret Service are amped and ready to laugh, cringe, and be blown away by the cutting edge, stylish, and smug sequel to a spoof of James Bond and spy movies.
The robust ensemble cast all, once again, seem to having a ball, including Julianne Moore as the villainess in this sequel and a great stunt cameo from Elton John.
Though this will be too crude, crass, and violent for some viewers, The Golden Circle is pure escapism and a complete emptying-of-the-mind kind of movie. People will love that they check out for 2+ hours and presumably be entertained.
Smug, thy name is Kingsman.
Not only does it bloat up to 2 hours and 21 minutes, but The Golden Circle doubles down on misogyny, crude and crass humor and content, and lacks logic, common sense, or any inventiveness whatsoever.
Matthew Vaughn and wife Jane Goldman decide to go for shock-and-awe, rather than provide a script that means anything. Maybe it's time to hang these suits up once and for all.
After becoming one of the biggest box office surprises of 2015, Kingsman: The Secret Service introduced the world to the fresh-faced Taron Egerton and made Colin Firth an action-movie star in his mid-50's. The spoof on James Bond films, and spy movies in general, was well received by audiences and a majority of critics. Though it had some significant issues with plot, basic logic, and retained a freewheeling misogynistic tone that was jarring and disquieting, Kingsman was edgy, funny at times, well-made, exceedingly violent, and served as a shot across the bow of other spy films which had came along in recent years.
Grossing over $400 million in worldwide box office, and based upon a comic book series that offers the potential for more film adaptations, it should come as no surprise that Kingsman: The Golden Circle is one of the most anticipated sequels of the fall of 2017.
Set one year after the events of the last film, Eggsy (Egerton) is now code-named Galahad in the Kingsman spy organization, after the death of mentor Harry Hart (Firth) in the previous film. After their random sexual encounter at the end of The Secret Service, Eggsy is now dating and living with Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden (Hanna Alström), in a flat in London.
A Kingsman hopeful who failed to make the team in the competition featured in the last movie, Charlie (Edward Holcroft), attacks Eggsy in a limousine and the two engage in a vicious battle. Charlie possesses a metallic smart-arm which now replaces the severed arm lost when Eggsy helped foil the deadly plans of Samuel L. Jackson's evil billionaire. You remember the lisping Richmond Valentine, right? That guy who wanted to reduce the world's population by having free SIM cards explode in people's cell phones?
In this particular fight with Eggsy, Charlie improves to 2-for-2 when it comes to not being able to keep a right arm of flesh and bone, or metal, firmly attached to your body
We learn that Charlie works for Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), who stows away in an undisclosed compound, resembling an open-air mall, with a 1950's-style restaurant in the middle. Poppy is the leader of an underground criminal organization known as "The Golden Circle" and her pharmaceutical company is really a front of the largest drug ring in the world.
Poppy provides a new arm to Charlie, but his previous arm, remember it has smart technology, took it upon itself to hack into the Kingsman computer network. Soon, ten missiles are deployed, targeting ten Kingsman homes, and the team faces sudden tragedy.
At this point, the storyline from Kingsman 1 to Kingsman 2 is essentially the same. We learn that Poppy wants to leverage the potential of killing millions and millions around the world to bend the will of the United States, freeing her of any criminal convictions and demanding an end to the War on Drugs. She has an antidote for her patented neurotoxin, but won't release it until all of her demands are met.
You see, Poppy has somehow found a way to taint every illicit substance in the world. One inhale, snort, or injection of these tainted recreational drugs unleashes, at first, a blue rash upon the user, then mania, paralysis, and, eventually, the most grisly of deaths.
With the epidemic spreading across the globe (I guess it is supposed to be humorous that tens of millions of people are stricken with the ailment), the Kingsmen, consisting of just Eggsy and the returning Merlin (Mark Strong), head to Kentucky (once again) to band together with an American organization, Statesman.
Whereas the Kingsman store front in London is that of a tailor, the Statesmen are in the whiskey business. Instead of the Knights of the Round Table, Statesmen members are code-named after popular beverages. Tequila (Channing Tatum) is a chaw-spewing cowboy, Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) handles planning, logistics, and execution for the group, Whiskey, a/k/a Jack Daniels (Pedro Pascal), is a lasso-swirling, Burt Reynolds-looking cowboy, and Champ, a/k/a Champagne (Jeff Bridges), is the man in charge of the whole team.
Clearly, director Matthew Vaughn has taken the "if it ain't broke, don't try and fix it" model to his sequel and this movie looks and feels very much like the first outing. There are impressive action sequences, once again, all masterfully edited with the film's production design simply fantastic. But no matter how pretty you make this, or how fairly you equalize the tea and slice up the crumpets, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is simply not a very good movie.
At 141 minutes, the movie long overstays its welcome, delivering a few too many elaborate fight scenes and shootouts. We have a twist or two which are obvious and predictable and Vaughn's proclivity to including gratuitous violence is not subdued whatsoever. Say hello to the meat grinder ladies and gentlemen!
For those who found the sex scene at the end of the first film shocking and alarming, Vaughn has heard you and tries to one-up himself in a scene that is not only insipid and juvenile, but offensive, deplorable, and jarringly out-of-character for the individuals involved.
And once again, it should be mentioned that the women here exist only to serve men, make them happy, and seek validation from men for decisions they have made. Perhaps, the most distressing element of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, is that, when given a sense of power and stature, women are other killed off or written with so much over-the-top hyperbolic behavior, they end up becoming characters seemingly worthy of derision.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle has much of what people liked about the first film, but also more of what people were put off by that first time around. I admire Matthew Vaughn's desire to push things forward, but sadly hoped that he could have taken the film in a somewhat different direction.
CAST & CREW
Starring: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Elton John, Bruce Greenwood, Emily Watson, Edward Holcroft, Hanna Alström, Sophie Cookson, Michael Gambon, Poppy Delevingne.
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Written by: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn
Release Date: March 22, 2017
20th Century Fox