Kingsman: The Secret Service emerged as one of the biggest surprises of 2015; an astute and self-aware roast of the spy movie genre (read: Bond movies) that delivered almost incomprehensible carnage with sly wit and likeable characters. Easier said than done. Most importantly, it didn’t take itself remotely seriously and, as a result, felt more entertaining than every Daniel Craig Bond combined. Does it need a sequel? Like most movies, no, but here we are with Kingsman: The Golden Circle. While it never stood a chance of being as fresh as the original – and it isn’t – the film still delivers just about everything a fan of the first movie could want. It’s rare to see a major studio movie this eager to please.
The film wastes no time in its set-up. After a confrontation with a rejected Kingsman applicant, Eggsy (Egerton), now a full agent, is on the run after Kingsman headquarters and most of its agents are destroyed by missiles fired from an unknown enemy. Clues left behind lead Eggsy, Merlin (Strong), and a recently recovered Harry Hart (Firth) to an allied spy agency in the United States called Statesman. Using joint intel, the agencies determine the missiles were fired by associates of Poppy Adams (Moore), a reclusive drug dealer bent on distributing tainted product to the junkies of America, all the while holding the antidote for the drug’s terrible effects ransom.
Like the first film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is wall-to-wall with action set pieces, all pitched with just the right balance of energy and humor. Writer/Director Matthew Vaughn never loses sight of the fact that this is comic book source material and makes no attempt to dampen the absurdity of it all. The original contained a few unexpectedly gory delights, and thanks to a meat mincer and an electrified lasso, that tradition continues here. Some of the topical humor falls flat, particularly in a scene where a mountain-side home of seniors is nearly wiped out by a runaway Gondola lift. The Golden Circle goes out of its way to beef up its cast, though the likes of Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, and Jeff Bridges really don’t play significant roles and disappear for extended stretches. It’s Julianne Moore, uncharacteristically playing a villain, that really shines as the deranged, yet kind of charming drug lord. After Samuel L. Jackson and now Moore, Kingsman could easily be the go-to series for actors who want to go against type and ham it up as the antihero.
Naturally, a gaping hole is left open for a second sequel. For that to work, some tweaking to the formula will need to be done. In the meantime, however, this follow-up gets the job done with clever casting, first-rate action, and the pride with which it wears its R rating. No one will ever call this series high art, but it does aim to please and built-in fans will find a lot to like in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Length: 141 Minutes
Rating: R for sequences of strong violence, drug content, language throughout and some sexual material.
Theatrical Release: September 22, 2017
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Written by: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn. Based upon the comic book “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons.
Cast: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry