A weird fact was suddenly made aware to me after viewing Matthew Vaughn’s sequel to his previous Kingsman film: there have been two movies theatrically released in 2017 that have featured the song Take Me Home, Country Roads in the core emotional scene and stuck out for me as the best scene in both movies – this and Logan Lucky. Not only that but BOTH films contained Channing Tatum! Weird.
Anyway, let’s talk all about Matthew Vaughn’s follow-up to his first hit in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The film pretty much picks up from where we left off in the original flick. Eggsy (Taron Egerton) continues to work for the Kingsman and now must deal with surviving villain from the first film Charlie Hesketh, now equipped with an incredible robotic hand. That’s not all though. After every Kingsman headquarter is virtually destroyed, Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) head to American to enlist the help of their spy brethren, the Statesmen led by Champagne (Jeff Bridges), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) and Tequila (Channing Tatum). Together along with the return of a familiar face, the gang set out to stop Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), a seemingly cheery and bright-eyed lady who is also a notorious drug lord surrounded by an idyllic 1950s neighbourhood.
I had heard warnings that this one wasn’t as good as the original and that it was quite a letdown. Looking at the runtime before I entered the theatre didn’t help either as the promise of 141 minutes didn’t exactly fill me with hope. Suffice to say, I was gleefully surprised when it turned out to be just fine. Sure, it didn’t pack the punch of the original nor did it even come close to that movie’s clever potpurri of visuals and dazzling imagery but gosh darn it, it was still quite a bit of fun. Any film that imagines a world in which Julianne Moore runs a huge drug enterprise and forces people to commit cannibalism to show their loyalty automatically gets some points from me.
Let’s start out with some of the negative things that prevent this from excelling like the first installment. The opening action sequence did nothing for me. It was supposed to be a high-octane and fast-paced sequence but ultimately I just groaned and figured it would be a long-ass movie. Thankfully, that was not the case. The other thing I didn’t like (minor spoiler alert here but they did give it away in the damn trailer) was the return of Colin Firth as Harry. It has nothing to do with Firth’s performance as he does just as good as you’d expect but I thought the way in which they explained him surviving the first film was lazy and just a thin excuse to bring the actor back. They actually did that with two characters from the original film. The other thing I wasn’t wild on was Halle Berry. Again, nothing to do with her as she did fine but her character was almost completely unnecessary. Her main scenes are with her overseeing the agents on a computer but Merlin is literally doing the same thing right next to her. So what is her purpose as a character? Finally, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges are woefully underused. Sticking them in a handful of quick scenes while they were being heavily advertised in the trailer is unforgiveable.
There is much to love in the latest offering though – the plot, while a little insane even by these movies’ standards, makes for a great deal of fun and much like the original film, we have a great villain to drive it forward. Julianne Moore is delightful and terrifying all at the same time. She gets a good chunk of screen time but I wanted even more because she stole every scene. Taron Egerton and Colin Firth bring back a lot of what made them engaging the first time around but now it’s Mark Strong who steals one particular scene that I will not spoil but honestly, it may have been the best one in either movie combined. Obviously, many of the action scenes are quite enjoyable even if they don’t reach the level of the previous film. The big finale as well as a ski resort shoot-out are both entertaining set pieces. The production design itself is also quite stunning. Julianne Moore’s palatial 1950s-esque drug enterprise is particularly inspired as is the meat grinder that she gleefully uses to dispatch of people she doesn’t care for anymore. Another thing I enjoyed was a small detail involving the president. Again, it’s not something I can go into a great deal without spoiling anything but suffice to say, audiences will be surprised by the character’s actions.
So if you’re looking for a good-but-not-great sequel to a fantastic movie and you just wanna turn your brain off for 140 minutes, you can certainly do much worse than Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Check it out and remember to keep your phone off and shut up in the theatre. After all, manners maketh man.
RATING: *** ½
Less than * (Actively offensive to one’s intelligence)
* (Brutal; bottom-of-the-barrel)
** (Some elements keep it from being awful but still not very good)
*** (Completely watchable; a rental as old-timers might say)
**** (Great film with a few things here and there keeping it from being perfect)
***** (Flawless; a true achievement)