In February of 2014, many were shocked at how entertaining Kingsman: The Secret Service was, gaining more and more fans as each week passed at the theaters. Now, Matthew Vaughn and Co. are back to deliver some more of the heightened fun that we all loved from the first film in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. This time, however, the Kingsman will have some help from their American cousins, the Stateman! The following review will be spoiler free.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is once again directed by Matthew Vaughn and contains all the stars from the original such as Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, and Mark Strong and also contains some fresh new faces like Pedro Pascal, Julianne Moore, and Channing Tatum.
After saving the world, the Kingsman must quickly jump back into action after Poppy (Moore) destroys their headquarters and other properties. Leaving them with no other options, the Kingsman manage to team up with the Statesman, an American underground spy agency. Eggsy (Egerton), now somewhat of a veteran agent, must use everything at his disposal before Poppy enacts a plot that could put the fate of millions of people at stake. Thankfully, Eggsy gets a little help from an old friend.
Matthew Vaughn has been reluctant to return to franchises in the past, most notably with Kick-Ass 2. In this case, the X-Men: First Class director quickly expressed interest in directing the sequel to Kingsman, as long as it grossed enough money to warrant one (which obviously, it did).
The production for Kingsman: The Golden Circle wasn’t a smooth ride, unfortunately. Production had to circumvent one of Egerton’s other projects, a starring role in Lionsgate‘s new Robin Hood franchise. Filming became even more unwieldy once more top-notch actors signed on, forcing Vaughn to be clever in shooting. In fact, the release date of the movie was changed multiple times, moving from mid-July back to October then forward again to its current release date.
Taron Egerton is a Star, and He Needs to be in More Films
As in the original, Egerton is the best part of this film. If you can believe it, he saunters around with even more swagger and style this time around, revelling in his role as the anti-Bond. Hollywood continues to search for another male to put front and center, but they shouldn’t look any further. Egerton oozes charisma unlike any other young actor today, and he proves that statement here.
He somehow even manages to be the emotional core of the film. Although The Golden Circle gets weird and downright insane, Egerton is there to keep it somewhat grounded in a quasi-sense of reality where you feel like you could still lose any one of these characters despite the fact that baseballs double as hand grenades in this universe.
Egerton has that “it’ factor. No matter what he does, you just can’t help but love him.
World Building that Actually Works
Matthew Vaughn even succeeds in building on the world that he established in the original Kingsman. The Stateman are a fun little touch to this film, adding some wild west flavor to the heightened, frenetic action. Vaughn obviously loves playing with satire, and the Statesman are an obnoxiously silly exaggeration of the American way.
Most sequels have that issue where they add multiple new characters to the mix, making the entire movie feel bloated without giving any one character their due. Thankfully, Kingsman 2 manages its incredibly talented cast well, allowing the central bonds to remain in place for the most part.
Lacking the Oomph that Made the Predecessor So Great
As with the original, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is clearly a riff on the Bond films, becoming self-referential almost to a fault. However, whereas Kingsman was similar to a film like GoldenEye, Kingsman 2 shoots its metaphorical wad, getting closer to Moonraker. This notion isn’t necessarily a bad thing on its own, but one can’t help but feel like it’s all too much. This film is the classic example of too much of a good thing. The Golden Circle suffers from the common disease known as “sequel-itis.”
Everything gets bigger. The villain is more over the top, the gadgets are more absurd, and the action even climbs to greater extremes. However, these elements do not add up to a better time. The script has become way more unwieldy, failing to capture the fun and excitement of the sleeper hit of 2014.
In essence, Kingsman 2 is like a greatest hits album. It plays off of fans’ favorite parts from the first film, adding them into the middle of a far less interesting plot. You’ll perk up once you hear “manners maketh man” or when the same musical cues from Henry Jackman’s great score start to play. But, they aren’t in service to anything inventive. For all this film’s creativity, it feels surprisingly stale.
This movie feels like it’s just wacky for the sake of being wacky, quite literally winking at the camera as chaos ensues. That’s not to say that there isn’t fun some set pieces in this film (because there certainly are), but none of it holds the same weight. For lack of a better term, the story to this sequel is just dopey. Every character is clearly having fun, but for what purpose?
In the end, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is like an aging baseball player. Every so often, you see glimmers of the greatness that it once was, but one can’t help but notice the player in his current form, the one that’s a step slow. You won’t hate watching him, but you eventually admit to yourself that he’s just not the same.
But enough with the extended metaphor. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a shell of the original, even if there’s still some fun to be had. It gets a C+. This sequel isn’t terrible, but a more inspired final product would’ve been appreciated.
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