Kingsman: The Golden Circle, written by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn (based on the comic The Secret Service by Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons); directed by Matthew Vaughn. Produced by 20th Century FOX. Copyright 2017. (Seen October 2, 2017.)
When I wrote my (very short) review of the first Kingsman movie, I talked a lot about how it’s an over-the-top spy flick that mainly worked because no one was taking it too seriously. The key to this sequel is that it’s more of the same, and I’m surprisingly okay with that.
The movie starts out acknowledging that time has passed since the events of the first movie. Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is busy balancing being a Kingsman with his relationship with Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström). He remains friends with his buddies while using his resources with fellow spy Roxy (Sophie Cookson) and Merlin (Mark Strong) to impress Tilde’s royal parents. But then ex-Kingsman applicant Charlie (Edward Holcroft) shows up, somehow surviving the end events of the first movie, and all hell breaks loose.
Charlie is working for Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore, having way too much fun playing the villain), a purveyor of illegal drugs determined to terrorize the world with a new strain of her drug until her regular stuff becomes legal. Along the way, Eggsy and Merlin find the Statesmen, a similar group based in a distillery in Kentucky, run by Champagne (Jeff Bridges) and helped by Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), with Merlin’s equivalent Gingerale (Halle Berry). They also have Harry (Colin Firth), and — through an explanation that fits the crazy over-the-top nature of the films — explains that he did survive the shooting but has amnesia.
Overall, if you liked the first movie, you’ll like the second. As with the first, the violence is over the top and laughably unreal but not in a bad way. Also as with the first, some of the wrong people die. I felt the trailers lied as to the amount of time Channing Tatum is in it (although as Glen Weldon mentioned in the Pop Culture Happy Hour episode that discussed this movie — among others — he is mostly in his underwear, and, “That underwear is art directed in a way that I will describe as generous.”). I also felt that Firth, who was 90% of the reason I enjoyed the first movie, wasn’t as ‘present’ in this one, although he got to do some comedy. I do, however, feel that’s made up by the fact that Elton John plays himself and has a field day kicking ass once he gets tired of being a hostage at the hands of Poppy. Finally, we get the awesome obligatory fight sequence near the end set to the oddly wonderful country cover of “Word Up”. (And I’ll never hear “Take Me Home, Country Roads” the same way again.)
No, these movies aren’t great works of art. And yes, there are some issues with them: seeing this on the day after the Las Vegas shooting felt wrong in a way, and despite Berry being a kick ass gender-bent Q the women were still massively lacking in onscreen representation. But sometimes you want to just shut out the real world and enjoy yourself with ludicrous entertainment. And The Golden Circle did that for me.
The Kingsman: Golden Circle is still playing in select theatres. For more information, visit the official website.