Kingsman: The Golden Circle-Was It As Good As The First?
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Producers: Matthew Vaughn, David Reid, Adam Bohling
Screenplay: Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn
(Redacted Super Secret Cameo)
Based On “Kingsman” by Dave Gibbon and Mark Millar
Production: Marvel Studios, Cloudy Productions
Distribution: 20th Century Fox
Kingsman: The Secret Service was a huge surprise to me when it came out in 2014. I had never heard of the comic, and it seemed to be a YA James Bond knockoff from the trailer. What I got instead was a really smart satire and love letter to the British spy genre. Taron Egerton was a huge revelation as Eggsy, and Colin Firth turned out to have some real action chops, and Samuel L. Jackson played the ” Over The Top Bond Villain Taken To The Extreme” like only he can. All of this, plus it introduced the world at large to Sophia Boutella as an action star. So it’s sequel has a lot to live up to. Did it surpass the original? No. Is it still an incredibly fun ride that enhances the mythology while delivering some great characters and action set pieces? Yes.
The story picks up a short time after the events of the first film, Princess Tilde is now living with Eggsy (which is nice to know his character wasn’t put in the first film just to lead up to THAT scene at the end, she is actually a lot more fleshed out here) in a loving relationship, and he has been promoted to the new Galahad. However, information stolen by old rival Charlie leads to the Kingsman being destroyed and only Eggsy and Merlin remaining. Charlie has been working for drug Queenpin Poppy Adams, who has laced her drugs with a deadly disease only she has the cure for. To stop her from holding the world to ransom, the remaining Kingsman must team up with their American cousins, The Statesman, to find Poppy’s 50’s theme lair and stop another world ending event.
I can’t decide if the best thing about this movie is the acting or the directing. The action set pieces are some of the best of the year, with some insane cartoonish violence. But when it comes to action, Matthew Vaughn is a quality guy, he can do it in his sleep. Just as impressive is the acting, especially Julianne Moore as the villain Poppy. Over the top is where Samuel L. Jackson lives, and he’s one of the best there is at it. The last time I saw Julianne Moore play a villain was in Tales From The Darkside: The Movie (a movie I love, by the way), usually I just see her in dramas, but it’s great to see her having a blast digging into this sadistic, arrogant, greedy, wannabe business woman. Everyone who returns from the first movie is still great, though it’s upsetting that most are jettisoned to make way for the new guys. Everyone from the Statesman are also giving great performances, enjoying themselves.
What fails this movie is its script, that’s the second movie in a row I’ve had to say that about. It’s not like Mother!, where the script just needed twenty to thirty more drafts but had everything it needed right there. Kingsman writes some awesome characters and gives them fun things to do, but getting to those things is flawed. For instance, and I don’t want to give anything away so I’ll be as vague as possible here; I get Poppy’s plan, it’s a smart plan, but the President Of The United States has a certain reaction, and the spy’s have to deal with both of them. The President’s decisions kind of create a loophole where the rest of the movie doesn’t happen if they tell the villain the information they have because she would have no reason to continue her plan. Secondly, out of all the people in the President’s cabinet, only one person objects to the way he’s handling things? Really? Not to mention the extremely unnecessary and uncomfortable scene where Eggsy has to seduce a henchman’s girlfriend to put a tracker on her. I give a lot of flack to a certain scene at the end of the first movie for being unnecessary, but that’s just a throw away moment with a character who gets expanded upon in the sequel, and it occurs kind of naturally and doesn’t stop the movie in any way. The Golden Circle twists itself into pretzels to come up with the circumstances that lead to what happens, it’s kind of creepy.
That being said if you don’t want a horror film like it, an abstract surrealist drama like Mother!, or a LEGO movie, this would be worth your time, especially for Julianne Moore and a special super secret cameo that’s probably been spoiled by now.