A well-tailored, golden sequel.
One of the bigger surprises of the 2015 movie release slate was the stylish, hyper-kinetic spy-parody Kingsman: The Secret Service. It elegantly balanced action with comedy, while retaining a sense of class, making it one of the best spy-action films the genre has to offer. Audiences agreed, and rewarded the film handsomely with their wallets, as Kingsman: The Secret Service went on to gross $414 million worldwide. When a film such as this over achieves at the box office, studio executives are quick to pull the trigger on green-lighting a sequel, and over 2 years later, that sequel has arrived in the form of Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle sees Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) and the rest of the Kingsman organization going about their typical daily duties until they come into contact with members of an underground organization called “The Golden Circle.” Led by criminal mastermind Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) , who plans to poison all of those who use narcotics while holding government agencies for ransom for an antidote, “The Golden Circle” destroys all known Kingsman associates with the exception of Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong). Seemingly on their own, they travel to America to enlist the help of “The Statesman”, an organization similar to theirs but with Southern charm, to take down Poppy while also reconnecting with the presumed to be dead Harry Hart/ Galahad (Colin Firth).
The issue plaguing most sequels in the 21st century is the dreaded symptom known as sequelitis. Symptoms of sequelitis include forgoing of a good story, bigger special effects, more lavish set-pieces, and an overlong runtime. Kingsman: The Golden Circle shows signs of these symptoms, but in the competent hands of writer/ director Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman: The Golden Circle displays these symptoms to not only parody spy film sequels, but also deliver a rowdy good time with the Kingsman.
Taron Egerton continues to showcase he’s a rising star in Hollywood as Eggsy, and his cockney British accent along with the finely tailored suits makes him a likeable hero. His interactions with the always splendid Mark Strong were some of the high points in the original film, and those high points continue here in the sequel. While it’s a shame the studio chose to spoil the return of Colin Firth in the trailers, Firth’s arch gives the film some much needed depth and insight we did not get from his character in the first film, and Firth is once again a calm, cool, and collected mentor in the film.
The selling point the studio is undoubtedly exploiting most is the inclusion of Statesman agents, most notably Channing Tatum as Agent Tequila, Jeff Bridges as Agent Champagne/ Champ, and Halle Berry as Agent Ginger Ale. Tatum delivers his movie star qualities as a southerner once again, but only briefly. Bridges is essentially playing himself and a similar role to Michael Caine’s in the first Kingsman, but Bridges’ Southern twain more than makes up for his lack of screen time. Berry is in the film the most out of the three, but is the American version of Mark Strong’s Merlin, not necessarily the most exciting role, but she does a fine job.
The real star of the film are the action scenes, which invoke memories of the first film while adding enough of a twist and being larger in scale to please those looking forward to the film. The film starts off with a bang in a car chase scene while Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” blasts in the background, providing for a fun and exciting start to the film. There’s a repeat of the first film’s bar fight scene, but it’s got enough new material to justify it’s inclusion in the film. Action set pieces including a snowy mountain lair in Italy and Poppy’s 1950s dreamland “Poppy Land” (*which blasts Elton John’s “Saturday Night”, who also plays a fictionalized version of himself*) are non-stop fun, and further highlight the absurdity of spy movie villains hideouts and home bases.
If there are any complaints to have regarding the film, it would be its length and having the unfortunate task of trying to top a tremendous villain in the first film. At 141 minutes, the film is a bit overlong, mainly due to Pedro Pascal’s obvious arch as Agent Whiskey. Julianne Moore is clearly having fun as criminal mastermind Poppy, and there’s no doubting an actress of her caliber brings her A-game. However, she’s nowhere near as memorable as Samuel L. Jackson’s over-the-top villain role in the first film, rendering her villain somewhat lackluster.
While common symptoms of sequelitis are present, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the rare sequel that doesn’t get bogged down by its desire to be bigger and zanier than the original. This should please fans of the original, action movie junkies, and spy film aficionados, but its overlong runtime may leave some exhausted by the end. Overall, Kingsman: The Golden Circle aims to please, and does so in the form of a well-tailored, golden sequel.
Rating: 3/4 Stars. Pay High Matinée Price.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle stars Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Pedro Pascal, Hanna Alström, Edward Holcroft, Emily Watson, Bruce Greenwood, Sophie Cookson, Channing Tatum, and Jeff Bridges. It is in theaters September 22nd.