Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
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PLOT: After the Kingsman HQ is destroyed, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) are forced to team up with their American affiliate, Statesman, and their top agents, Tequila (Channing Tatum), Jack Daniels (Pedro Pascal), and Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) to defeat an evil mastermind, Poppy (Julianne Moore), head of the mysterious “Golden Circle”.

REVIEW: Matthew Vaughn’s KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE gave audiences a charge that’s hard to replicate. Not only was it a sleeper that no one thought would be as good as it was, but it also made legitimate star out of Taron Egerton, and cast Colin Firth brilliantly against type as the leading man in a hardcore action movie. Vaughn’s love letter to Roger Moore-era Bond’s, with KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE, he’s dutifully followed it up with a bigger-budgeted sequel, but also one that utterly lacks the thing that made the original so great - the element of surprise.

Often predictable, right down to the resurrection of Firth’s presumably dead Harry (and no - it’s not a spoiler - it’s in all the trailers and posters), THE GOLDEN CIRCLE plays out more like a comedy sequel than a second installment in an action franchise. Too much of the punishing 140 minute running time is devoted to calling out and replicating gags from the original, when not indulging in lifeless action sequences padded out with too much CGI, giving it a cartoonish vibe that lacks any sense of peril.

The first one was similarly over-the-top, but it was grounded by an intriguing story, with a lower-class bloke polished up into a smooth, Bond-style agent. Familiar? Yes, but it was compelling, thanks to the actors and the witty direction and scripting. Vaughn and co-scribe Jane Goldman have handed off scripting duties to Matt Byrne, and in the process the world has lost some of its identity. Eggsy and Harry are back, but at times they feel softened from the first, as if with the bigger budget, Vaughn’s making some concessions to straightforward tent-pole film-making. It’s still R-rated, with plenty of gore and swearing, but there’s no anarchic spirit. Don’t expect anything nearly as aggressive as the incredible church shootout from the first film.

Julianne Moore’s chipper baddie also seems too similar to Samuel L. Jackson’s in the original, once again sporting a partially robotic hench-person (now Eggsy’s former rival, Charlie - played by Edward Holcroft) and an eccentric celebrity prisoner, being Elton John as himself (probably the funniest thing about the movie). The Statesmen are a fun bunch, but Jeff Bridges, and even Tatum are present for barely more than cameos. Pascal is the main guy, and he’s a nice foil for the more polished Firth and Egerton, as is Berry for Strong’s Merlin, but there’s too much exposition. Huge chunks of the movie, including a lengthy aside to the Glastonbury fest, could have been excised, although the former does contain the only really risque gag.

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE isn’t a total loss, with Bruce Greenwood hilarious as a very Trumpian president, while some of the eccentric music choices, like Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” hit the right note (the movie also continues the John Denver resurgence started by ALIEN: COVENANT and OKJA). Firth, while sidelined for way too much of the film, is as game as ever, and Egerton continues to be a capable leading man, even if his arc is less fleshed-out here. As minor entertainment, it’ll do, but it’s not a slam-bang sensation like the first. If KINGSMAN comes back for another romp, hopefully it’ll be with the same sense of energy and danger the first had.

Source: JoBlo.com



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