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Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Movie Review

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Movie Review

Rating: B (Good)

Trailer/Thumbnail Courtesy 20th Century Fox

Kingsman: The Secret Service was an affectionate and refreshing take on James Bond style spy films, spinning familiar tropes into something unique and unexpected. That’s a high bar for Kingsman: The Golden Circle to clear and admittedly, some sequelitis does set in as director/co-writer Matthew Vaughn aims to make this new entry bigger and more insane. He does deliver on the insanity front, but he also goes a tad overboard with length becoming the biggest culprit. Nonetheless, the film succeeds on its promise of fun action with some sly commentary thrown in to make this a reasonable big-screen experience with these snappily dressed secret agents.

Vaughn’s strength lies in his action scenes with each attempting to top the last one. While none of the new set-pieces reach the memoreobility of the infamous church scene and climax of The Secret Service, there are some fun fight sequences on display. Vaughn certainly seems to have taken advantage of the higher effects budget and there is some impressive choreography with a lasso, courtesy of Pedro Pascal’s cowboy spy. Music plays just as large a role in The Golden Circle as it did in the first film in creating the proper high-octane excitement and the humour is kept intact, even as the stakes are continually raised for the heroes.

The Kingsman universe is also silly enough to work around bringing back Colin Firth’s agent Galahad. One exposition dump later, it’s seemingly accepted. Meanwhile, Julianne Moore is clearly enjoying herself as the villain, yet she still feels underused. Through her ’50s-obsessed drug mogul, the screenplay crafts some surprising commentary on the war on drugs and drug users. The Golden Circle manages to simultaneously be anti-drugs and pro-drugs at the same time. At two hours and twenty minutes, the film does run far too long and it seemingly takes forever for the Kingsman agents and their American counterparts to find out about Moore’s existence. Part of this is the need to introduce the Statesman branch of agents, although the film mostly opts for making them a liquor-based copy of Kingsman. This takes a long while and even then, Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum are off-screen for a good chunk of the movie.

Eggsy is not given much of an arc this time around, with the film giving him multiple plot strands at once. Taron Egerton is still the same charming self, but with him in full secret agent mode, it seems there’s not a whole lot more to explore with the character. Equally disappointing is the jettisoning of Sophie Cookson’s fellow Kingsman agent early on. After the first film spent a considerable amount of time setting her and Eggsy up as a team, it’s a waste that she’s not allowed to go on the new mission. It’s a strangely befuddling decision on the part of Vaughn and his frequent co-writer Jane Goldman.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle certainly succeeds in the action angle and it’s great to see the agents again. Vaughn even throws in an extended role for Elton John as himself in a way that cleverly connects to the events of the predecessor. However, there is a sameness to the proceedings here and the longer runtime is unnecessary. In the end, this is primarily Eggsy and Galahad’s story, but the relationship that grows between them isn’t nearly as exciting this time around. This is a more than adequate sequel that also proves what an impressive lightning in a bottle the first Kingsman was. This is more like a Ghostbusters II, in that it’s fun but mostly seeks to repeat similar beats, rather than a Toy Story 2.

Stefan Ellison