Following up from the events of the first movie, Eggsy is now working in the Kingsman tailor shop until he is confronted by a former Kingsman recruit forcing him to look into The Golden Circle. After their headquarters is destroyed, Eggsy and Merlin travel to America where they meet their US cousins in The Statesmen. Together these two organisations will go after Poppy Adams, the villainess CEO of an illegal drug corporation. Matthew Vaughn returns to direct the sequel that stars Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Elton John
Just like the first movie, The Golden Circle is a lot of fun; filled with awesome action, cool characters and some great laughs; it is a great cinema experience. In fact the movie doubles down on the humour more than the first movie and for the most part the laughs work. In fact Elton John may be the best character in the movie due to his perfectly timed and witty humour. Matthew Vaughn can definitely shoot an action scene with some many unique sequences from the snow shoot out to the final fight in the jungle; they all look incredible and are cut together brilliantly. In terms of action and humour this sequel hits its mark, though unfortunately it feels like it sacrifices the story for those elements. The story wasn’t as clever, strong or engaging as the first movie.
One ting Matthew Vaughn does well in his movies is the way he develops his characters, and that is no exception in The Golden Circle. Eggsy is the new Galahad, trying to find his was after the passing of his mentor Harry. He also struggles between balancing his normal life with his loving girlfriend and his mates, with being a spy. Taron Egerton does such a fantastic job in this role as a diamond in the rough, or vice versa you might say, but he certainly has the charisma of someone impersonating James Bond. Similar to some of the uncomfortable and controversial scenes in the first movie, Vaughn puts Eggsy in a similar scene but an important one where Eggsy must choose between doing his duty and loyalty to his partner, something not often explored in Spy movies. Mark Strong has some fantastic moments as Merlin, in particular with his love of John Denver. I wont spoil it in this review but the explanation of what happened to Harry is quite clever and original, but also fits in with the style of film that Vaughn has created. One of the big issues I took with the characters is the lack of screen time Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum actually get in the movie, these are two massive actors and it would have been great fro them to have larger roles. Though with them on the side it lead to more prominent roles for Pedro Pascal and Halle Berry.
The character motivation didn’t work for me; in the Bond films James Bond is often motivated by duty to Queen and Country or to save the world. In Kingsman: The Secret Service, the Kingsman are driven to stop Richmond Valentine from taking over the world. The fact that the Kingsman are driven by revenge after their headquarters is blown up (not a spoiler you see it in all the trailers) just didn’t work for me and felt unnecessary. Even though we as an audience have no connection to the other Kingsman besides the ones we meet in the first movie, I feel there was no need to add in the revenge factor that The Golden Circle brings in. If you have The Kingsman going up against a shadow organisation such as The Golden Circle it makes sense, given the fact that The Golden Circle are a criminal organisation and The Kingsman and Statesman would feel obliged to stop them.
Much like John Wick: Chapter 2 expanded the world of The Continental hotel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle opens the story up to a much larger world with the inclusion of their American counterparts in The Statesmen, lead by Jeff Bridges with Channing Tatum, Pedro Pascal and Halley Barry all being a part of the US Spy Agency. There are definitely some clever cultural clashes between The Kingsman and The Statesman as Vaughn makes fun of the differences between England and America. This similarity is interesting give the fact I felt that John Wick: Chapter 2 did an amazing job at creating this new universe for the audience but did little in the way of story development from the first movie, something I think that Kingsman: The Golden Circle is guilty of as well. The world building is excellent with many great new characters being introduced but the story around them just wasn’t as great as it could have been. That’s not to say I think these movies are bad, because I don’t. They are both highly entertaining movies that I found the story to be a little weak in.
Where the first movie was focused more on societies obsession with technology and celebrities whilst addressing Global Warming, the second film takes on the deeper topic of the War on Drugs. These social commentaries are an interesting take for the villain to address through their actions. Unlike the first one where the villain is clearly the villain, Poppy’s motivations are more of a left wing approach to drugs mixed with a maniacal twist. I think Matthew Vaughn is taking a pro legalization stance with the film but it was a weird way to go about it. Despite having this positive image the film takes a weird approach to it and an even weirder approach to the anti-drug stance that blur the lines between villains. Though even with this blurred nature of villain, I found Poppy Adams to be too over the top, even for a Kingsman movie, which is saying something given the performance delivered by Samuel L Jackson in the first film. Between her robot dogs, her use of 50s nostalgia and kidnapping Elton John, she seems more crazy than sinister or intelligent.
While I didn’t feel that this movie lived up to the bar set by the first movie, a film that took everyone by surprise, I had a lot of fun. In fact, there were several laugh out loud moments and incredible action moments that make it an extremely enjoyable movie and there is nothing wrong with that. Matthew Vaughn clearly cares about this franchise and puts a lot of effort into the film, as shown by certain story elements that really could have fallen by the way side. If you enjoyed the first movie you can definitely enjoy this film.
Check it out if you are a fan of the first movie. It was fun to see this with a crowd so check it out at the cinema
Kingsman: The Golden Circle scores a 6.5 out of 10
Thanks for reading my review of Kingsman: The Golden Circle. What are your thoughts on the movie? Were you a fan of the books? Let me know in the comments section below.
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