?Kingsman: The Secret Service was over the top, campy humor, and tons of action with an interesting spin on secret agent movies and great character development. I enjoyed it immensely, even in its sillier moments so when I caught the trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle, I was excited to see it and find out how well the director, Matthew Vaughn, would manage the sequel. While it was fun and silly, it didn’t live up to the original.
The story begins with Eggsy Unwin/Galahad (Taron Egerton) fighting with an ex-recruit Charlie (Edward Holcroft) who plants a device in Eggsy’s car. Eggsy is busy dating Tildie (Hanna Alström), the Swedish princess introduced in the first movie, hanging out with his friends and getting Roxy (Sophie Cookson), his best friend, to help him with Tildie’s parents. All that is soon wiped away as the device hacks the Kingsman systems and their headquarters are blown up, along with most of the other Kingsman. Merlin (Mark Strong) survives, so he and Eggsy must find resources and track down the culprit.
They join forces with their American cousins, the Statesman, only to discover that Harry Hart (Colin Firth), Eggsy’s mentor, is still alive through the intervention of Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), the Statesman’s tech support. The Statesman decide to assist them introducing us to agent Tequila (Channing Tatum), agent Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and the leader of the group, Champagne (Jeff Bridges). They discover that a drug kingpin, the maniacally cheerful Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) is responsible for the destruction and intends to hold the world hostage with a virus laced into all her drugs if she and her organization, the Golden Circle, are not legitimized. Eggsy, Merlin, and Harry, along with the Statesman, must find a way to defeat her before the drug causes the deaths of billions of people, including those nearest and dearest to Eggsy.
There are some interesting elements to the film. The first is the relationship between Eggsy and his girlfriend, Tildie. While the relationship began in the first movie, I truly didn’t expect it to continue to the second, figuring like most spy movies, the girl would have disappeared. I was pleased to be wrong. Not only is she not a one-off but her character is used to motivate Eggsy in key points in the film. Keeping the relationship consistent was a great use of the actress and a great plot element.
While bringing Colin Firth back was an unusual choice, since he is supposedly dead at the end of the last movie, Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldsman, the writers, found a very internally consistent way to bring him back in. It is accomplished within the framework of the high-tech advances in weaponry and gadgets inhabiting the world of the Kingsman and while I won’t spoil it, I have to give kudos to the writers for doing a creditable job of explaining his presence. Not only that, he has amnesia and does not recover instantly. It takes time for the character to return to his old self and there are stumbles along the way which was far more realistic than I would expect for such an otherwise over the top film.
The action sequences are in the style of the first movie, a bit gruesome at points but incredibly exciting and kept me engaged. The pacing of the action is quick and keeps the film from feeling like it is over two hours. It is fun, exciting and everything I’d hoped from the first film. I also liked how the American Statesman use their weapons with a different style to their fighting than Eggsy and the Kingsman.
The actors do a great job with their parts. I loved seeing Taron Egerton. He manages to be suave and have a sense of humor. His character isn’t perfect but the actor does a great job of blending his low-class origins into a new class of gentleman. Colin Firth plays with ease both an amnesiac Harry Hart as well as when Harry recovers, showing the character struggling to regain his full strength. Mark Strong is full of wit and intelligence. He gets a chance to sing and is all the more engaging because of it. Julianne Moore is cheerful and murderous as Poppy, sharply intelligent and insane. Halle Berry is geeky and adorable. Elton John plays a part as himself, captured and forced to perform for Poppy in her Cambodian hideout. He is hilarious and gets to have some of the funniest bits in the film.
While I had fun, there was room for improvement. First, the movie telegraphs each move, mostly because it’s pretty much the first movie remixed. I was able to predict most of the plot, including who would have the virus and how that would affect Eggsy. While Eggsy has a great relationship with Tildie, there is little growth for him or any of the other characters. He grows a great deal in the first film but here, there was little change to his character. Channing Tatum was wasted. There was very little of him in the movie. Finally, while in The Secret Service, the filmmakers manage to blend some murderous, bloody sequences in the fights and play them for comic effect. In this film, they did not manage the same. Those same type of sequences are a bit too gruesome and almost make me flinch. They lack the over the top element that made them funny in the original.
If you like the first Kingsman movie, you will most likely love this one. While it doesn’t delve as deeply into the characters, it has most of the same elements with familiar faces. It does have all the cool gadgets and gizmos that I liked in the first with a few new toys thrown in. I liked the consistency in the characters, like Tildie and Harry’s recovery. The action sequences are a blast. It was funny, action packed, and stayed true to the style of the first movie. It just lacks some of the originality and humor of the first film and that was a bit of a letdown for me.
Rating: 3 stars
“Kingsman: The Secret Service” introduced the world to Kingsman – an independent, international intelligence agency operating at the highest level of discretion, whose ultimate goal is to keep the world safe. In “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” our heroes face a new challenge. When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, their journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US called Statesman, dating back to the day they were both founded. In a new adventure that tests their agents’ strength and wits to the limit, these two elite secret organizations band together to defeat a ruthless common enemy, in order to save the world, something that’s becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy…
Cast: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, with Sir Elton John, and Channing Tatum, and Jeff Bridges
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Written By: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn, based on the comic book “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons