The 2014 spy/action extravaganza Kingsman: The Secret Service introduced Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a troubled kid possibly headed for a life of crime. He is pulled out of his regular life by Harry Hart (Colin Firth), a secret agent whom Eggsy’s father had given his life to save, and entered into training to join the super-duper secret spy agency known as The Kingsman. The Kingsman then worked together to battle a psychotic megalomaniac played by an exceedingly bizarre Samuel L. Jackson. Lots of swearing and violent action scenes ensued.
Now, three years later, we have Kingsman: The Golden Circle. This time, Eggsy and his fellow agents must team up with their American counterparts, The Statesman (featuring characters played by Channing Tatum, Halle Barry and Jeff Bridges), to battle a psychotic, attention craving drug kingpin played by Julianne Moore. Lots of swearing and violent action scenes ensue.
I generally try to stay away from the phrase “if you liked (blank), then you’ll also like (blank),” but if you liked Secret Service, you’re likely to enjoy Golden Circle. The sequel is exactly like the original in terms of tone and pacing, its sense of humor is the same and so is its level of action. I thought the original was OK, but with some serious issues and this film is the exact same way. They feel like fun, escapist romps bloated to excess.
The first film had a dull lead character, was overly long and far too explicitly violent to be the fun adventure it wanted to be (there was one scene in particular, a massacre in a church, that was extremely uncomfortable to watch). However, it had a good performance from Colin Firth, an enjoyably eclectic cast and the fascinating strangeness of Jackson and his sword-legged assistant (Sofia Boutella).
Golden Circle fixes some of those problems and then comes up with new ones. Taron Egerton’s Eggsy is given much more to do this time around and actually becomes kind of likable, which makes the story a little easier to get into. The violence also seems to be toned down a tad. There may be more action in this film, but it feels more cartoonish and less bloody (with a couple of exceptions). Also, like in Secret Service, the cast is good and seems to be having fun with the ridiculousness of the story they are in.
Unfortunately, it is even longer than the already too long original and its villain is not very interesting. There is just so much going on in this movie with so many subplots that it takes away from the ones that work.
Also, the best thing about the first film, Colin Firth’s performance as the gentlemanly Harry Hart, has been completely squandered this time around. I won’t divulge what he does, since his appearance is technically a spoiler (though one that has been revealed in all the advertising materials), but his story arc does not allow him to demonstrate his considerable charm.
The Kingsman films (loosely based on a comic book series created by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons) know exactly what they want to be. These days, sequels aim to be bigger and louder than their predecessors. That is certainly the case with The Golden Circle. If you’ve seen the original, or even just a trailer for this one, you already know what you are going to get here. Audiences seem appreciative thus far. However, if the people behind the franchise keep trying to entertain through excess and absurdity, audiences may find each successive film too familiar. 3 out of 5 stars.
By Ben Pivoz
Ben’s Movie Reviews