Movie Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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Movie Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

While Kingsman: The Golden Circle has some iterative improvements to the original, it also has some really wonky bits. Those expecting a coherent plot will not find this film bespoke.

We finish off our seemingly weeks long salute to bullets flying willy-nilly with Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The sequel to a bit of a sleeper surprise in 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, this movie has a pretty good notion of what worked in the first one. All the main leads are back, as is director Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class). While the action is a tighter offering than the original, the story is really bad. As such, The Golden Circle is an old suit worn one too many times, revealing threadbare patches in need of a good haberdasher.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is settling into life in the Kingsman secret service. He’s also settling down with Tilde, the Swedish Princess he “bummed” around with at the end of the first Kingsman. Things go sideways when Charlie, a Kingsman washout as well as Eggsy’s rival, shows up and tries to kidnap him. This sets the wheels in motion of a plot to destroy Kingsman, masterminded by Poppy (Julianne Moore), an evil genius who has cornered the market on drugs. All of them. Her cartel, The Golden Circle, needs the dapper do-gooders out of the way so she can blackmail the world into legalizing her wares.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
“It was nice of you to bring me back for the sequel, Mr. Vaughn. Let me guess, you’re going to fridge me.”

When Poppy’s opening gambit puts 99% of the Kingsman agents in the morgue, Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) discover an ally in Statesman, their American counterparts. Fronting themselves as a Whiskey distillery, the folks at Statesman make up for their lack of etiquette by having all the state of the art equipment that running a billion dollar booze industry can buy. Together, they race across the globe trying to foil The Golden Circle before the next suit they put on is their burial attire.

What was good is better

We may have not been gaga over Kingsman, but I really appreciated the choreography. It was this weird middle ground between Jason Bourne and Li Mu Bai, and it worked. Over the top without being cartoonish, it really helped keep me going through a movie that really needed to tighten up it’s storytelling.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Up in the air! Junior Birdman!

What do we get in The Golden Circle? An iterative yet improved action experience.  It starts right in from the jump, and honestly, the first fight/chase was the high point of the film. While it doesn’t get better than that, it rarely gets worse. Much like The Hitman’s Bodyguard, the camera work throws every trick in the bag at us. Shaky cam, first person, close up CQC and long tracking shots of cars doing some of the slickest drifting outside of Fast & Furious. They even spent more than a nickel on the CGI this time around! The Golden Circle is just like it’s predecessor: a pastiche of other spy films (you’ll get as much Spy Kids 3D as 007 in the Kingsman series) that tries to be all sizzle.

It has to be, because the story is one under-cooked, sorry excuse for a steak.

What was bad is unbelievably bad

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
That ain’t even the half of it, lady.

In the first movie, the baddie felt unnecessary. In The Golden Circle, she’s just plain stupid. Poppy poisons her own supply to force the United States (that if you hadn’t noticed recently, is A-OK with large swaths of its population dying in a ditch) into allowing drugs to be legal. The President, quite predictably, goes “So fucking what?” to her demands. If she wins, she takes her wildly profitable business and subjects it to taxes and regulations. If she loses, she kills all her customers. It’s not even laughably bad.

The puerile humor is back too. Eggsy has to play stinky pinky with a target to get a tracker on her. Elton John intimates that if he’s rescued (Poppy kidnapped him for personal entertainment), Galahad (Colin Firth) can take him to brown town. It’s literally just the same garbage anal sex joke from the first one. They bring Channing Tatum into the movie just to make a Magic Mike “Look at my bulge while I dance” reference, then they fridge him. Literally. These movies are just like Kick-Ass: it can’t decide whether to be serious or comical. It chases two hares and catches none.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Huh, they didn’t actually fridge the girl for once. I mean, they did blow her up, but at least it wasn’t a fridge.

Manners Maketh Man

This movie could have been better. It just needed to condense the story and pick which flavor it wanted to be. It’s the second movie this week I’ve watched that couldn’t stay in one lane. It’s a shame too, as the character moments (Eggsy and Tilde, Eggsy and Galahad, Eggsy/Galahad and Merlin) are pretty darn good. But The Golden Circle is akin to reading Shakespeare with all your heart, getting to the dramatic pause… then farting.

Both the Box Office take and the story (such as it was) seem to intimate that this is the final outing for our Elegant Enforcers, and it’s too bad. If they had handed this series off to other directors, they might have had a Bond for the modern age. As it is, they just have a half-assed Team America with slicker than goose-shit action. And really nice suits.

Looking Good? Check. Feeling Good? Eh, not so much.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Maybe trim the fat with that big boy next time, Mr. Vaughn.

 

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