From Britain with love.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) is an action spy sequel directed by Matthew Vaughn (Kingsman: The Secret Service, X-Men: First Class). Following on from the events of the first film and Eggsy (Taron Egerton) must go on the run with tech wizard Merlin (Mark Strong) after their headquarters is destroyed by the mysterious Golden Circle. Enlisting the help of their American counterparts the Statesmen, they must foil an international kidnapping conspiracy masterminded by the unhinged Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore).
I was a big fan of the first film – while I wouldn’t describe it as a great movie, its a fun self-aware homage to spy movies of yore and made for a wildly entertaining movie. This therefore makes The Golden Circle a frustrating disappointment. While in many ways the movie stays close to the original a few major problems hinder the exploits of our favourite gentleman spies and make for a still mildly entertaining but far inferior film.
Starting with the plot and its here that many of The Golden Circle’s major problems can be found. The films suffers from a severe case of sequelitis – the common Hollywood ailment of ‘lets do everything we did the first time, but bigger!’ And that mentality bleeds into the entire movie. In an almost impressive feat the film is overlong (at 131 minutes) and overstuffed and yet still manages to feel shallow. There are just too many subplots and characters and scenes that go on for way too long that the movie never finds that sense of momentum and energy that the first film had. Do we really care if Eggsy’s in a relationship? Not really. Did Firth’s Gallahad character have to return? No. Is the movie better with him returning? Also no. Considering how long the movie is, too much is spent spinning its wheels and that makes for a frustrating – and unfortunately dull – experience.
But with all that now aside, the best thing the movie has going for it can be summarised in two words – Matthew Vaughn. And also great action I guess, but those two are rather interlinked. The action sequences, set pieces and all around white-knuckle brawling is a feast for the eyes and are a stylish and absurdly enjoyable spectacle. While nothing matches the church scene in the previous film, the consistency and quality of the action scenes overall are up a notch and its these that present not only the most fun but are almost worth the price of admission on their own.
Another thing the film’s got going for it is a stellar and rather extensive cast. Taron Egerton is just as good this time around, and continues to embody the charming and earnest qualities that keeps him both grounded and absorbingly watchable. Mark Strong is also given more to do this time around and he makes the most of it. The newly introduced Statesmen, in the form of Channing Tatum’s Tequila and Pedro Pascal’s Whisky, both take to their roles well, even if Tatum is unfortunately underused. The one disappointment is actually Colin Firth as Gallahad, who seemed to be having a grand time in the first one and now seems to be losing interest this time around. While he’s definitely still entertaining, hes not the endearing British force he was in The Secret Service. However, the same can’t be said for Julianne Moore’s turn as the villain Poppy. She’s having a wonderful time hamming it up for the camera in the role of the nostalgia-obsessed leader of the Golden Circle, and even exceeds what Samuel L. Jackson did in the previous film.
In many ways, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a bigger version of the first movie, but its definitely not a better one. Even if the cast and action are excellent, the painfully overstuffed and plodding plot means this is a far less entertaining spectacle this time around. Its still fun, but a little bit has been left behind in the transition to a franchise. Manners may maketh man, but they do not maketh movie.
General Audiences: Meh
Film Buffs: Not Recommended