"Kingsman: The Golden Circle" Review
With 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, director Matthew Vaughn adapted the popular spy comic series into a fun and stylish action-comedy film that continually poked fun at how silly it actually was. After making over $400 million worldwide and almost universal audience acclaim, a sequel was quickly greenlit. This forgettable sequel tries to outdo the original but is bogged down by a ridiculous plot, overlong runtime, and poor new characters.
If you are a fan of the first film like I am, you will be happy to hear that Vaughn keeps the same fast-paced and sleek action that you have come to expect. The action is plentiful and the slow motion is well used to keep the flow steady. Some fans are going to love that the action here is much bigger, but some scenes are too big for their own good and so unrealistic even in a series that makes fun of being unrealistic. The final action scene tries to outdo the fan favorite church brawl from the first film, but falls well short and ends the movie on a disappointing note.
The core cast is all back and each of them is the same as we left them. You can feel that the chemistry between the Kingsman has evolved, especially between Eggsy (Taron Egerton), Harry (Colin Firth), and Merlin (Mark Strong). They play off of each other really well and feel like a real family.
It would have been a shock to see Harry still alive after being presumed dead in the first film, but this surprise was ruined by the trailers, which is a worrying theme for recent movies that have had twists/surprises ruined before release.
Introduced in this movie are the “Statesman”, the American version of Kingman that features Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, and Jeff Bridges. They introduced in the beginning to be a bunch of fun loving crime fighters that appreciate a good drink. However, Tatum is sidelined halfway through and the other Americans aren’t as interesting as the British.
Julianne Moore takes over as the main villain, Poppy, a drug lord with a plan to hold the world for ransom. Moore’s character is very one dimensional and doesn’t really do anything, only residing in her hideout and trying to be menacing as a poor man’s Harley Quinn. She keeps Elton John, played by himself, as a prisoner to keep her entertained. John is very annoying the whole movie, shouting expletives and mocking himself, and is given way too much screen time.
The plot of Kingsman: The Golden Circle is even more far-fetched and stupid than the original. The basic premise is that Poppy controls almost every drug in the world (somehow) and everyone that has used them is now infected with a deadly pathogen. She holds hundreds of millions for ransom with her price being that every drug made legal in order for her to make astronomical profits. Poppy blows up the Kingsman headquarters and every agent’s home (except Eggsy and Merlin) so they won’t put a stop to her plan. She ignores the Statesman for some reason even though they are shown to be even stronger than Kingsman. Eggsy and Merlin must team up with the Statesman to find the antidote before everyone dies. Multiple plot holes come up throughout that mixup character motivations and reasoning.
There are also subtle nods throughout the story about how drug users aren’t bad people and that we shouldn’t punish them, but they are so liberally forced and unneeded that it quickly becomes irritating to hear.
The film clocks in at a runtime of 141 minutes and really drags during the middle parts as the characters trek along from set piece to set piece. It’s weird that a film this long is filled with multiple underdeveloped characters and plot that is given little build up. At least twenty to thirty minutes could have been cut and would have resulted in faster-paced film that doesn’t get slowed down by unnecessary callbacks to the original and underdeveloped side plots.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a dazzling action movie that tries to tread the same water as the original, but is drowned by underdeveloped characters, a dumb plot, and an overlong runtime. For the fans of the first one, be prepared for disappointment.