Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
Matthew Vaughn’s sequel to his hit 2015 movie is a curious affair. At times it hits the same heights of its predecessor, but it also frequently misses the mark and lapses into self-indulgence. The stylised approach of the first movie is maintained and again the spy genre is skewered and satirised with a keen eye. Yet as this is a sequel there’s a requirement to be bigger than before and it is this exponential growth that at times tips the balance between keeping the audience on board with the joke and simply over egging the entire concept. A clever cameo featuring Elton John, later becomes an extended joke that then drags on to be a clumsy vignette that out stays its welcome. This succinctly highlights the flaw that runs throughout the film. It’s a real shame that Kingsman: The Golden Circle is so uneven because it has moments of great potential and an absolute superb score.
Plot wise it’s all somewhat arbitrary. After an unexpected encounter with failed Kingsman initiate Charlie Hesketh (Edwards Holcroft), Eggsy (Taron Egerton) finds that the Kingsman organisation has been virtually wiped out. Along with Merlin (Mark Strong), the pair follow the Doomsday protocol, which leads them to Statesman, a secret American organisation posing as a Bourbon whiskey distillery in Kentucky. They soon learn that the attack upon them was made by Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) head of the Golden Circle drug cartel who is now blackmailing the US government through the use of poison drugs, to legalise and regulate the sale of proscribed substances. Eggsy also discovers that his former partner and mentor Harry Hart is alive but has lost all memory of his time working for Kingsman. Over the top action, CGI violence and laddish dialogue ensues.
There are some very entertaining ideas featured within Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Poppy Adams’ jungle lair sports an enjoyably kitsch fifties aesthetic, featuring gleaming bowling alleys, diners and nail salons. Because she trusts technology more than people the film features a pair of sinister robot dogs. Then there’s the fun idea of Statesmen, the US equivalent of the Kingsman organisation who sell fine liquor rather than hide behind a Saville row tailors. It boats a quality cast featuring the likes of Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal, Halle Berry and a somewhat underused Channing Tatum. There also a clever homage to 007 and On Her Majesties Secret Service, with an amusing set piece in a cable car and mountain Alpine lair. Yet in-between such promising scenes there are several less involving subplots such as the ongoing relationship between Eggsy and Princess Tilde. Also, the laddish humour strays from lampooning to endorsing at times and again there is an ill judged “joke” involving intimately placing a tracking device on a female suspect.
The extended limb-breaking, CGI assisted fight scenes feel even more procedural than last time around, but they fail to top Harry’s church massacre from the previous movie. Thus, we end up with a movie that feels flabby and could easily have fifteen minutes being excised from it’s running time. I must admit, I did like the bold and somewhat controversial idea of the US President secretly facilitating Poppy Adams drug based epidemic, as it would win the war on drugs in one go. But for every good idea in Kingsman: The Golden Circle there are others that fail to engage. I get the impression that writer/director Michael Vaughn perhaps spent too much time servicing fans needs at the expense of focusing on what made the first film witty, knowing and on point. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is not an out and out failure, but it is annoyingly uneven and as a result somewhat unsatisfying. I expect such problems from mainstream Hollywood blockbusters but not from more independently minded film makers. If we must have a third instalment, let us hope Mr Vaughn keeps his eye firmly on the ball next time.