When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.
“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is great fun, let’s get that out of the way first, and secondly, while not as good as its predecessor, as is the case with many sequels, there are some fantastic moments of action and escapism, everything you need for a movie of this ilk. While both Kingsman movies parody, to great effect, the James Bond films, like that franchise, there are many ups and downs. By the time Sean Connery reached “You Only Live Twice” in 1967, the Bond movies were becoming more and more outrageous, hence, his departure from the role. When Roger Moore reached “Moonraker” in 1979, the same thing transpired, special effects and enormous sets took over. And the same with Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, to an extent. When this happens, the producers must retreat to the drawing board to find a way to ground the characters in more realistic situations, while still managing to deliver the thrills and entertainment value audiences have come to expect. Otherwise, people begin to lose interest.
Even though “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is only the second feature in this series, it far surpasses the original in every aspect. And that is not necessarily a good thing. There is more action, but more action does not equal a better movie. There is more humor and far-fetched special effects but again, just because the film has these elements in abundance, does not make it better. Delivering solid action scenes periodically throughout the movie, instead of every few minutes, gives the audience time to breathe between each episode and it allows the characters to explain the story and move it along, vital components to any good film.
As the story begins, Eggsy (Taron Egerton), our hero and protagonist from the previous installment, is leaving work at the end of the day when he is approached by a stranger holding a gun. We quickly discover that it is Charlie (Edward Holcroft), a failed Kingsman from the first movie and before he has time to capture Eggsy, they end up in a high-speed chase through the streets of London. Charlie manages to escape and Eggsy makes his way back home, as he prepares to meet, for the first time, the parents of his fiancée, Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström), whom he rescued at the end of part one. On his way to dinner, he speaks with Merlin (Mark Strong), his boss, about the earlier events and he informs Eggsy that he is looking into it. While dining with Tilde and her folks, the Kingsman headquarters, as well as Eggsy’s home, are blown up and when Eggsy arrives at the remnants of his house, Merlin appears, and both men realize that for the first time, they are truly alone, with nowhere to go and no one to turn to. With the remaining Kingsman agents dead in the blast, Eggsy and Merlin find a clue that leads them to Kentucky in the U.S.
Once there, they learn that the Kingsman agency has an American counterpart, called Statesman, which is run by Champ (Jeff Bridges) and his two team leads, Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Ginger (Halle Berry). While there, both men are shocked when they are told that Harry (Colin Firth), Eggsy’s mentor and father figure, who was apparently killed in the first film, is alive and well. Initially, he is suffering from amnesia but when Eggsy pulls a gun on him, hoping that the trauma will snap him out of his stupor, he gradually begins to remember everything and all three men suit up to take on Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the head of an evil drug cartel who has deliberately spiked all of her recreational drugs, from marijuana to heroin and crystal meth, with a toxin that will eventually kill everyone that has it in their system, amounting to millions of people worldwide. Starting with a blue rash, the user then experiences mania, followed by paralysis, and ultimately, death. Living in the jungles of South America, Poppy makes the announcement on TV around the world and demands that the President of the United States legalize all drugs and to make her and her company, The Golden Circle, immune from prosecution so she can move back to the U.S. Once these demands are met, she will then release the antidote in drones all around the world but the Kingsmen have other plans!
“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is pure unadulterated, violent, cheesy, R-rated fun. There’s no way a Bond movie would ever deliver the sort of violence that transpires in both Kingsman movies so director Matthew Vaughn holds no punches. Jeff “The Dude” Bridges only appears onscreen for a total of about 10 minutes, which was very disappointing and even with nothing much to do, watching him chew up the scenery is worth every penny. Julianne Moore’s Poppy Adams is meticulously paranoid about the people who work for her and when someone steps out of line, they meet their demise inside a meat grinder in her 1950s-themed restaurant. Who said you can’t have your burger and eat it too? In a throwback to Samuel L. Jackson’s villainous Valentine from the first film, where he kidnapped famous people, Poppy follows suit, holding Elton John captive, forcing him to play songs for her whenever she feels like it. While obviously playing an exaggerated version of himself, he gets to swear like a sailor and kick ass, complete with flying sidekicks.
The movie never takes itself too seriously and that is why it doesn’t live up to the originality of the first outing. In the first film, most of what transpired was believable, right up to the over-the-top finale but everything that led up to that scene was credible. Here, in the first two minutes, we are thrust into an outrageously overblown car chase that had no semblance of believability and while it is expertly choreographed, in the back of our minds, we know that there’s no way it could have really happened the way it did. In the first movie, we watch Eggsy go through training to see if he’s good enough to become the next Kingsman and everything he goes through, feels real, but here, that is thrown out the window in favor of James Bond-style gimmicks, something this and the first film parodied, to great effect. In the end, this is pure escapism so just go in and have fun, God knows, I did.
In theaters Friday, September 22nd