“Kingsman: The Golden Circle”: A Millennial’s Movie Review
Manners, Maketh, Maine?
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is an action-adventure film, and the sequel to the 2014 hit Kingsman: The Secret Service. Directed once again by Matthew Vaughn, the film continues the story of Eggsy (played by Taron Egerton), who is now a fully-fledged Kingsman. Balancing his secret agent duties with his new relationship, Eggsy’s world is turned upside down (again) as the Kingsman headquarters are destroyed and the entire world population is threatened by drug lord Poppy Adams (played by Julianne Moore). With the help of surviving agent Merlin (Mark Strong), the Kingsman travel across the pond to seek support from the Statesman, their U.S. equivalents, in order to defeat Poppy and foil her evil plan.
Blending the James Bond spy style with a touch of class, a pinch of comedic pop culture, and a smattering of over-the-top action, the first Kingsman movie brought something fresh by combining genres and serving audiences a dish of pure entertainment. It thus goes without saying that its sequel, the Golden Circle, would be another highly anticipated film from Matthew Vaughn, who directed gems such as Stardust, Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class. With an ever bigger all-star cast, can The Golden Circle deliver the crown jewels of Vaughn’s career, or is this yet another briefcase of sequelitis?
Kingsman: The Golden Circle starts off with a bang, indicating that it could actually be bigger, better and more explosive than its predecessor. What follows, however, is a second act bogged down with subplots and improperly slow pacing. Though the third act kicks it back into high gear with enthralling action, the film never recovers the steam it lost in the process of getting us to its final showdown. That said, there is plenty of humour, fast-paced action and intriguing world-building to make the Golden Circle a very enjoyable and entertaining blockbuster, a good film to see on a night out with friends, but one that is definitely not child-friendly. Fans of action-adventure with a bit of comedy will not want to miss this.
Circle of Life
Creativity is a big part of what makes the Kingsman films a joy to watch. With the Golden Circle, Matthew Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman further the Kingsman mythology by introducing us to a new American spy organisation, new and quirky characters as well as new gadgets, upping their world-building game and inviting the audience to learn more about it. The comedy hits hard most of the time, drawing several huge rounds of belly-laughs from our audience. And the action is, as expected, a beautiful Matthew Vaughn signature, as every punch, kick and gunshot is felt in the frantic, heightened-senses editing that fans of Kingsman and Kick-Ass are familiar with.
Taron Egerton puts in another phenomenal lead performance as Eggsy, from the lingo-licking Londoner to the well-groomed, well-dressed saver of the world. It’s almost worrying that the man could be typecast if he hasn’t been already, but he is definitely the shining star of the film. His charisma is echoed in almost every other character in the film, including Pedro Pascal’s lasso-wielding Agent Whiskey, as well as a very special role for Sir Elton John. It’s hard to find a boring character in The Golden Circle, and that I believe, captures the essence of its comic book origins.
A Shot of Reality
For all its entertainment, The Golden Circle disappoints in its second act, with several subplots that are meant to supplement the main storyline, but end up distracting from it instead. One subplot deals with Eggsy’s ongoing relationship, whereas another focuses on the return of Colin Firth (no spoilers) and how that affects the mission. In theory, these don’t sound as if they detract from the main plot, but somehow the scenes are structured such that the film spends a large portion of its runtime in character conversations, losing focus of the main threat in the process. I wanted to learn so much more about the world of the Statesman and the origins of our villain, but here they focus more on the characters from the original film and their personal struggles, something I didn’t care as much for, to be honest. The characters seem to remain quite passive during this middle period, as our heroes are only spurred into action when the main villain shoves her entire evil plan into their faces. Rather convenient, no?
Action scenes in the film are shot and structured well, but always seem to fall one level below those in the original. Whether it’s missing the shock of a mind-blowing ‘church scene’-style fight, or the steel and intimidation of Sofia Boutella’s metal feet, The Golden Circle falls short of the high standards it had to live up to. It also must be said that Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges, who appear in a lot of the marketing material, barely appear in the film, a major disappointment when combined with the fact that talents such as Michael Gambon and Sophie Cookson are also completely wasted.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a fun ride, and the characters will keep audiences engaged even during the slower, less interesting periods of the film. It isn’t as hard-hitting or as well-paced as the first film, but it still builds an even richer world that teases so much more about the Kingsman and their international relationships, something we hope to see more of in the third film. Audiences will love the film for its characters, its humour and its action, likely building up to another commercially-successful outing for Matthew Vaughn and co. The Golden Circle has all the hallmarks of a summer blockbuster, and despite its shortcomings, will surely keep the franchise ball rolling for what will hopefully be a solid, exhilarating end to the trilogy.
Overall Score: 7.0/10