Thursday, September 21, 2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

While I enjoyed writer-director Matthew Vaughn's absurdly over-the-top (but not that original) Bond spoof, I was far from the biggest fan of Kingsman: The Secret Service. Two years later Vaughn returns with most of the key figures from the first film offering more of the same while widening the world and opening the franchise to new sequel opportunities. The script follows the still unfortunately-named Eggsy (Taron Egerton) as one of the few surviving members of Kingsman which is destroyed by a crazy drug kingpin (Julianne Moore) who has a failed Kingsman recruit (Edward Holcroft) on her payroll.

While the film lacks the big action sequences of the first film or a strong female character to root for - Hanna Alström returns as Princess Tilde but is of little importance to the plot and Roxy (Sophie Cookson) is unfortunately given the extremely early exit I predicted - the sequel hits most of the same beats as the original with a crazy villain with an insane plan and absurd sidekick which Eggsy and friends will have to thwart to save a large percentage of the world's population. To do that he'll need the help of some new American friends.

Following the unfortunate loss most of his colleagues, Eggsy heads west to team-up with the Kingsman American cousins known as the Statesman. The introduction of the Statesman opens the door to countless other such organizations around which is probably the most interesting aspect of the otherwise very similar group. The American version boasts Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, and Pedro Pascal - although fans may be surprised as to which of those actors earns the most screentime. In terms of villains Moore annoyed me far less than Samuel L. Jackson (who apparently wasn't fed on the first film given his attempt to eat every piece of scenery in sight). The design of her base is fun, and if her plan is a little bonkers (like the rest of the franchise), it does allow for an interesting twist involving the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood).

Is Kingsman: The Golden Circle great? No, but I'd argue neither was the original. Given Eggsy's role as a master spy we get to skip the various training scenes and get straight to the action, which helps quite a bit the second time around. While it might not have as many memorable scenes as the first, the sequel returns the same flair and style while paying homage to the original and various spy films it honors. The return of Harry (Colin Firth) is one of the script's goofier aspects (and that's saying something), and the film's final act relies heavily on the character (although one could argue a character like Roxy, or a female Statesman, could just have easily taken up some of that slack). The lack of a strong female character (other than the crazy lady trying to wipe out millions of people) is certainly a weakness this time around. Still, for what it is, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is lightweight entertainment.

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