‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ Review: What A Sequel Is Supposed To Do
In 2014, Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service surprised audiences and critics alike with its over-the-top spy action and comedy, and went on to make hundreds of millions of dollars worldwide. Now, Vaughn and most of his cast are back for the sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and the film does exactly what I sequel is supposed to do. Everything is bigger; bigger action scenes, bigger obstacles and threats, and even bigger cameos. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is like the first film on steroids, but is that a good thing?
Kingsman: The Golden Circle once again stars Taron Egerton as Eggsy, a member of the Kingsman, who serve the crown from behind the veneer of a tailor shop. The Kingsman organization has moved on after losing the legendary Galahad/Harry Hart (Colin Firth) and now Eggsy — the new Galahad — and Merlin (Mark Strong) fight the good fight to keep the realm safe. When a specter of the past shows up and attacks Eggsy, it sets into motion events that decimates the Kingsman organization and sends the survivors to America to link up with their cousins in the spy game, the Statesman. Together, these two organizations must stop the maniacal Poppy (Julianne Moore) from effectively winning the war on drugs at the expense of the lives of millions of people worldwide.
The humor in Kingsman: The Golden Circle comes from the clashing of the two organizations. Statesman, led by Champagne (Jeff Bridges), uses a Kentucky whiskey distillery as their front, and Tequila (Channing Tatum), Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) are the American counterparts to Eggsy’s Galahad and Merlin. Statesman also hold a secret, as they recovered the body of Harry Hart (Firth) after he was shot in the head and were able to save his life, with some side effects.
Vaughn and co-screenwriter Jane Goldman milk this juxtaposition for all its worth, but the true laughs come from a cameo by Elton John, who has a surprisingly large role in the film. The script is just as witty as the first film, but it pushes the boundaries of both the spy film genre and of comedy. Kingsman: The Golden Circle and the Kingsman franchise as a whole seem nestled between the seriousness of the James Bond franchise and the slapstick humor of the Austin Powers films. And that’s not a bad thing.
Egerton and Firth are able to rekindle that father/son dynamic from the first film, and Mark Strong is given more to do here as a field agent out of necessity. The American side of the cast are all well done, with Tatum serving in a secondary role, which is where he works best, and Pascal taking the spotlight as Whiskey, a Statesman agent from the New York City branch. Julianne Moore is slightly underdeveloped as the main antagonist, but her whole scheme is rife with social commentary on drugs, both in use and distribution, and that commentary might turn some people off.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle has some pretty incredible action sequences, culminating in an all-out assault on Poppy’s jungle lair, which is reminiscent of the church scene in the first film. The stunts are well choreographed and the action is lightning fast on-screen, forcing the viewers’ eyes to dart here and there to take it all in. This level of visual action is where Vaughn truly excels; where his contemporaries would slow down the action for effect, Vaughn pushes forward, even speeding it up. It’s what separates the Kingsman films from other recent action films based off of a comic book, and nestles this franchise into a genre all its own.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the perfect sequel. It further expands the universe and the characters, while ramping up all of the components that made the first film a success. And it does it all without rehashing themes or replicating scenarios. Sure, there are a few funny callbacks to elements in the first film, particularly in regards to, let’s say backdoor play, but a callback is not a recreation, and on the whole, Kingsman: The Golden Circle keeps the franchise fresh and moving forward. I enjoyed my time with the film and can’t wait to watch it again. In the end, that’s what Vaughn and company want from their audience, and I can’t help but oblige.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is rated R and is in theaters now.
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