Screenwriter Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn bring their charming British spy franchise Kingsman stateside for an equally whacky if less original sequel. With a few too many villains and seemingly wasted big stars, Kingsman: The Golden Circle still puts a fun spin on the spy genre. (GEP: 4/5, BKP: 3.5/5 )
Review by Managing Editor Brigid K. Presecky and Social Media Manager Georgiana E. Presecky
In the 2014 feature Kingsman: The Secret Service, Agent Harry Hart (Codename: Galahad, played by the indomitable Colin Firth) quotes Ernest Hemingway to spy recruit Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton). “There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self,” Hart says. While the quirky and meta Secret Service was certainly better than its fellow spy film counterparts, Kingsman: The Golden Circle fails to be superior to its former self. Despite Julianne Moore’s turn as the hilarious and sickly-sweet villain and strong performances from Firth and Egerton, the sequel overplays the silly surprises of the original and erases a majority of its English charm.
Moore’s drug empire destroys all traces of the independent intelligence agency we came to love in Secret Service, launching missiles at each of its secret locations and killing off almost every existing agent. Survivors Eggsy and tech-savvy sidekick Merlin (Mark Strong) discover a safety net in the American intelligence agency Statesman, masquerading as a Kentucky bourbon company. Here they find Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry and Channing Tatum in pretty forgettable agent roles and team up to take down Moore’s Poppy, who wants to legalize recreational drug use so badly that she threatens the lives of her drug-using clients with a deadly virus. (The Golden Circle has this in common with The Secret Service – both film’s villains have supposedly “good” social intentions for their genocidal plans, making their motivations more interesting than the average movie antagonist.)
For moviegoers who haven’t seen the original, The Golden Circle can stand on its own. Without the knowledge of Harry and Eggsy’s relationship, however, the action-packed adventure doesn’t hold much weight. Moore’s character is a newcomer, too, and the most entertaining aspect of a drawn-out sequel.
Goldman and Vaughn’s decision to scrap what made the first film so endearing and start from scratch with the less-polished American Statesman is questionable, but will undoubtedly leave room for the series to grow. Eggsy and Harry keep the sequel afloat as they attempt to rebuild their mentorship and once again save the world together. The humorous tone throughout the script serves as a good reminder not to take this unique franchise too seriously, but to buckle into Eggsy’s tricked-out cab for a crazy ride.
The Golden Circle is a bit louder, a bit showier and more chaotic than its predecessor, and about six stunts too long at 141 minutes. But its thoroughly entertaining twists, fun spy gadgetry and mission to save the world rescue it from total tedium.
© Brigid K. Presecky and Georgiana E. Presecky (9/22/17) FF2 Media
Top Photo: Taron Egerton as Eggsy.
Middle Photo: Two original Kingsman with Statesman Agent Whiskey (Pedro Pascal).
Bottom Photo: Egerton and Firth in The Golden Circle.
Photo Credits: 20th Century Fox
Q: Does Kingsman: The Golden Circle pass the Bechdel-Wallace test?