It has been three years since Kingsman: The Secret Service arrived in theaters, blowing away moviegoers with an updated and modern James Bond-style spy film that avid comic book readers secretly knew about all along. Given that film made $414 million, we all knew a sequel would be coming, and fast. Enter Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the follow-up to the film based on a comic that doesn’t have a sequel. Can screenwriters Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn recreate the magic they brought the world?
The long and the short of it? Not really, but dammit it’s a good time!
Bullocks, did they need to make this film?
The straight answer is yes, simply because the Statesman, a United States operation similar to Kingsman, is so damn fun. Vaughn, who also directs, and Goldman effectively open up the world of super spies with fancy gadgets in a whole new way. Seemingly a ragtag cowboy-style group, Pedro Pascal, Channing Tatum, and Jeff Bridges make up a good-old-boy team that sells top-notch whiskey and saves the world. Rounding them out is Halle Berry as the straight-laced tech/general support agent. A lot of time is spent building up these characters and their world, which gives the movie a fresh face. There is plenty to chew on as the plot twists and turns while the villain gets closer to her goal.
Rubbish, is the villain any good?
Julianne Moore plays Poppy, your quintessential high-aspiring villain with the foolproof plan. Moore plays the villain as you’d expect from any classic James Bond film, chewing scenery with her insane killing machines (a meat grinder to make hamburger is a highlight) and global aspirations. The neat twist, which harkens to the American minded Statesman, is her affinity for 50’s style accouterments. Moore plays the character impeccably well and will keep you interested till the very last second.
Stop taking a piss it’s not that great is it?
Alright, truth be told there are some major issues with this film, mostly around the plotting. The film hangs for too long setting up Eggsy’s relationship with his girlfriend, bringing back Colin Firth’s character (not a spoiler, the trailers show this!) and setting up the Statesman. What could’ve been a non-stop action film lets its foot off the gas one too many times. This installment falls into a classic sequel trap: setting up too many cool new things at the expense of the main characters we already love.
Arsehole, what about the action?
This is where the film really shines, as Vaughn has somehow seamless mixed CGI into his fight scenes. The actors really do look like they’re punching and shooting as they flip around with the camera spinning impossibly to capture the action. I was simply confounded and dazzled by the camera work in this film because it really does break the law of physics.
At the same time you can actually understand and follow all the action. Quite an amazing feat given how terrible action films have been at that for well over a decade. The last 30 minutes of this film are balls-to-the-wall action (some of which was featured in the trailers, sadly) and it’s excellent. The film also weaves in the use of incredible gizmos, harkening back to it’s James Bond roots. If you’re coming for action and can stomach the slower bits, you won’t be disappointed.
Blimey, get to the end!
By the end of this film, I was awash with glee for seeing things I’ve never seen in cinema, enjoyed the performances by all the actors, and been genuinely dazzled by the action set pieces. And yet, I was left with a sour taste in my mouth. It wasn’t a perfect experience–what action film is these days–but I was entertained enough. I’d love to see what they can create for another film, but given the reduction in jam-packed entertainment value I’m hoping they can steer this blooming ship into a fantastic trilogy with a fitting finale.