The surprise hit of 2015 was Kingsman: The Secret Service, a film based on the Mark Millar comics, Kingsman. It was a quasi-parody of a lot of spy movies riddled with over-the-top action and entertaining characters. I enjoyed the hell out of Kingsman. It’s the sort of clever comic-book movie that was needed. This film came out in the same year as an Avengers sequel and the cinematic raping of the Fantastic Four. 2 years later, we have a sequel. Did it continue the greatness of that film? Well, let’s find out. This is Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
A drug cartel named the Golden Circle wipes out nearly the entirety of the Kingsman. Surviving members Eggsy and Merlin must travel to the United States and work with their American counterpart, the Statesman, to combat this foe while running into an old friend presumed dead. Like most sequels, this picks up where the last film left off and this is where we run into the first problem: the narrative isn’t as strong as the first. A lot of this film is going from point A to point B and you’re not given enough time to take in the scenery, plus, there’s more focus on action, which lessens the time for character development. Speaking of characters…
Here’s another area where the film falters: the characters. Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is still a likable protagonist and Merlin (Mark Strong) is great, too. Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) was also entertaining until a certain twist, which we’ll get to later. But I was highly disappointed in Colin Firth as Galahad. He was awesome in the first movie and his death brought a lot of emotional weight. But then they brought him back in this movie (and the way they brought him back was bullshit) and he was a burden. Through most of his screen-time, Galahad lost his memories, so he’s not himself. And when he does gets his memories back, he’ll occasionally start seeing butterflies. He shouldn’t have been brought back. Channing Tatum’s character, Tequila, was completely wasted. Despite his appearance in the advertisement, he’s barely in the movie that much. He has one action scene and is put on ice during the rest. Halle Berry and Jeff Bridges were okay, but I couldn’t stand the Swedish princess. Elton John also makes an appearance and he has some funny lines.
And then there’s the villain, Poppy Adams, played by Julianne Moore. My God, this villain sucks. Let’s compare her to the villain of The Secret Service, Richmond Valentine. That villain was great, he was funny and threatening at the same time. Samuel L. Jackson makes that character work. Poppy Adams, on the other hand? She’s this extremely nice person who does villainous things and she barely interacts with the Kingsman until the third act. The way she was defeated was a joke. Her plan involves inserting a deadly virus into every recreational drug all across the world and hold the world hostage until the government ends the War On Drugs. I see what they’re trying to do, but it’s extremely corny and the execution doesn’t work. Worst villain ever. Oh, and there’s also a president who’s clearly a Trump parody. That’s all you need to know.
The best part of The Golden Circle is easily the action. It’s hyper-violent, over-the-top, and stylized as always. Most of my enjoyment of this film comes from these action scenes, in spite of how cartoonish they can get at times. BUT there’s also an issue: this film repeats the same scenes from The Secret Service. The first scene where Eggsy is attacked by a former Kingsman trainee who lost his arm and vocal chords in the first movie? It’s a ripoff of the church massacre scene. Both scenes are done mostly in one-shot while a popular song is playing in the background (Free Bird in the first, Let’s Go Crazy in the second). There’s also a “manners maketh man” bar scene, only with Whiskey kicking ass instead of Galahad. The climax is eerily similar to the climax to the third. That is just lazy and shameful. It also feels like they want to address the themes of substance abuse since drugs drive the plot of this movie and we have a villain who wants to do the right thing by ending the War On Drugs. But the film doesn’t go all the way with it either. It wants to have its cake and eat it too with social commentary and dumb, over-the-top action. And there’s also a twist with Whiskey being the bad guy, preventing the Kingsman from administering the antidote, thus, leaving those infected with the virus to die. That comes completely out of nowhere and ruins the character.
I give Kingsman: The Golden Circle a 4/10. This is another sequel that suffers from sequel-itis. The narrative is kinda weak, the characters aren’t as strong, and there’s way too many scenes from the first movie that were recycled. I enjoyed the action, that was fun. But without good character moments and development or a good narrative, it means nothing. I was very disappointed in this movie, which is a shame. I wanted to like this movie because of how much I loved the first, but the filmmakers just didn’t bring it. It’s just a meh movie. Won’t be watching it again.