“Kingsman: The Golden Circle”- Movie Review
The Kingsman series got its start as a limited-release British-American comic books series created by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. Debuting in 2012, the series drew inspiration from the classic spy thrillers of the 60s to tell the story of a young man who’s recruited by his uncle to join the secret service. Hollywood caught wind of the budding franchise a short time later, and churned out a surprisingly awesome big-screen adaptation in 2014 with Kickass and X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn at the helm. Now we have its highly anticipated sequel, which doesn’t quite reach the heights of its predecessor but still manages to bring the same level of wild, kinetic energy.
Taron Egerton returns as Eggsy, who’s now skilled Kingsman agent and a devoted boyfriend of the Swedish princess, Tilde (Hanna Alstrom), his literal booty call from the last movie. When the Kingsman headquarters is destroyed, he and Merlin (Mark Strong) have no choice but to turn to an American spy organization called the Statesman (made up of Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, and Pedro Pascal). The agents must work together to stop a smiley drug lord named Poppy (Julianne Moore) who plans to hold the world hostage until all drugs are legalized and she becomes queen of the trade.
As is the case with most movie sequels, Kingsman: The Golden Circle ups the ante, building off what the first film established rather than giving us less. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it does it well. For one, the cinematography is great. The action scenes are fun and exciting apart from the opening one, where for some reason the actors look too CGI’s and rubbery. Overall, Mathew Vaughn directs these aspects with his usual flare. Every single shot overflows with a cool yet elegant style, and he even makes the more over-the-top elements of the story work well enough so that it doesn’t distract too much from what’s going on.
And now for the things that don’t work as well. The film synopsis sounds simple enough, right? Bad guy- or in this case, bad woman- threatens to take over the world and the good guys have to stop it from happening. But what’s missing is the part about the re-emergence of Colin Firth’s character, Harry, and his struggle to remember who he is (this isn’t a spoiler, you see it in the trailer), relationship troubles between Eggsy and Tilde, an awkwardly extensive Elton John cameo, and the Statesman characters having their own storylines. The movie gets so bloated with unnecessary sub-plots that some portions of the film feel like filler until we get to the good stuff.
The acting across the board is solid, but there are character choices that I just don’t understand. Without giving it away, a character who played a large role in the first film gets axed off in the first act. Their death is completely unwarranted, and it wastes all the amazing development they’d had in the first Kingsman as well as the uniquely platonic relationship they had with Eggsy. Honestly, I think the film would’ve been ten times more interesting if this person had lived and fought side-by-side with Eggsy and Merlin. Both Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges get the short end of the stick, unfortunately. You see them a lot in all the advertising and the marketing campaigns, but, they only have about fifteen to twenty minutes of screen time. And since they make up the bulk of the Statesmen, that organization feels less like an integral part of the story and more like a glorified plot point.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle has a lot going on. It’s nowhere near as tightly written as the first one, but it still has the same high energy and charm that made its predecessor so much fun. The good outshines the bad, in my opinion, and that alone makes it at least worth the price of admission.
Cosmic Grade: 3.4 out of 5 Stars