Friday 22 September 2017

Film Review: Kingsman - The Golden Circle

Bigger, noisier and all round ballsier, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is unabashedly a sequel to its forebear, for both better and worse.

Matthew Vaughan hasn't made a habit of making sequels; in 2010 he directed Kick-Ass before handing over to someone else and the following year he made X-Men: First Class and called it quits.

So when he announced that he would be sticking around to helm a sequel to his 2015 adaptation of Mark Millar's Kingsman comic books, many saw it as a sign that the film – which opens this weekend and is subtitled The Golden Circle – was going to be a surefire hit.

And although it's still a fun romp with the same irreverence audiences loved about the first film, The Golden Circle is undoubtedly a couple of notches below what Vaughan has done before. That's not to say it's a bad film; just a remarkably mediocre one.

The film picks up shortly after the events of The Secret Service; Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is now a fully fledged Kingsman agent codenamed Galahad whilst juggling his relationship with Princess Tilde of Sweden (Hanna Alstrom). When a mysterious evil organisation known only as the Golden Circle destroys a series of Kingsman hideouts across Britain, our hero must travel to the US along with Merlin (Mark Strong) to join forces with the Statesmen, their American intelligence cousins.

It's here they meet Agents Tequila (Channing Tatum), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), Champagne (Jeff Bridges) and Ginger (Halle Berry). With Poppy (Julianne Moore), the leader of the Golden Circle, holding the world to ransom with a ludicrous plan, it's up to both sides to work together and save the world once again.

Vaughan launches into the action from the get-go; The Golden Circle opens with an extended car chase through the streets of London that gives you a taste of what to expect; crazy choreography, loud rock music and heavily CGI punches that feel like they are ripped from a video game cutscene. And although they rely way too much on the latter, the inventive, frenetic and acrobatic action scenes are one of the best parts of this film.

Egertron is also great as Eggsy; his chavvy charm carries across from the first film and he makes for an interesting and compelling lead, both in an action hero sense and when he has to broach more whimsical tongue-in-cheek stuff, like when Eggsy has to FaceTime Princess Tilde – because his mission calls for him to sleep with another woman (played by Poppy Delevingne).

That's the kind of juvenile depravity people enjoyed about the first film and The Golden Circle is no different. Vaughan revels in the opportunity to send up the spy genre, from the zany gadgets to Moore's frankly insane plot and villainous quirks – for example, Poppy lives in a Americana-inspired town in the middle of the Cambodian jungle with two robots dogs and a mincer which she uses to kill disloyal goons. If that isn't to your taste, The Golden Circle won't win your heart; it's crass, gory, dark and twisted.

No, the biggest issue with The Golden Circle is that it gets too wrapped up in backtracking a handful of plot points from the first film, chief among which is the teased reappearance of Harry Hart (Colin Firth). While Firth was a revelation as the dapper secret agent in Vaughan's first movie, here his character feels like a dead weight. In returning to the fold, Harry's character undoes a lot of emotional weight as well as Eggsy's own character growth, which robs the film of forward momentum – it certainly doesn't help that Vaughan slams on the brakes for a decent portion of the second act to focus on Firth's reintroduction.

Think of it this way; how would you have felt if Obi-Wan Kenobi was miraculously brought back to life in The Empire Strikes Back? That mentorship Luke Skywalker underwent in A New Hope is all the more powerful because, after Obi-Wan dies, he needs to put everything he has learnt into action. By resurrecting Harry, the film is worse off and moving backwards rather than forwards.

To make matters worse, The Golden Circle does away with several key players that compound this feeling of winding back the clock. That new status quo teased at the end of the first film is swept aside for something else, cutting short a handful of characters that, personally, I found interesting.

Furthermore, the Statesman are underused; Tatum, Bridges and Berry aren't given an awful lot to do. There is potential there but the film fails to make the most of it, sidelining those that you'd think would be central to the film. Similarly, Moore's villain is paper thin and hammy.

The Verdict: 6/10

Disappointingly middle of the road, The Golden Circle sees the Kingsman series lose some of that sparkle that enamoured us in 2015. There is still fun to be had but a narrative cul-de-sac regarding its two leads and an underused supporting cast filled with A-list names fail to impress.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is in cinemas across Australia now.


  1. I'm going to skip this one in theaters, I think. I came across a spoiler the other day that I figured was going to happen, but still reading it made me angry so now I'm basically just pouting. lol

    1. Fair enough – if you're referring to what I think you're referring to then that really bothered me too haha.



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