'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' Reviewed
'Kingsman: The Golden Circle': An Immensely Disappointing Sequel
I'm going to level with you; though the majority of us agree that this film’s predecessor, The Secret Service, exuded multiple manifestations of awesome, it didn’t exactly break any new ground. The film’s straight-faced satirical shrewdness and chaotic enthusiasm basically allowed commonplace story components to feel fresh. With that film’s success came an inevitable sequel. As expected from a sequel to an oil strike, Kingsman: The Golden Circle doubles down on the flashy, campy crowd-pleasers. But akin to plenty of overconfident sequels, novelty is diminished. Bloated, bland, and inconsistently entertaining, The Golden Circle feels like the fifth installment into an overmilked franchise rather than a first sequel.
The Kingsman come under attack and their headquarters is completely eradicated. With Eggsy and Merlin being the only survivors, they are left with no choice but to fly to Kentucky and seek assistance from the Kingsman’s American counterparts known as the Statesman. As they work together they uncover a nefarious plot by Poppy Adams, a deranged cannibalistic woman with a global monopoly on the drug trade. She laces drugs worldwide with a deadly virus for which she has the antidote, which will be released if the President of the United States ends the costly drug war and grants her organization full immunity.
Not even half an hour into this film I was able to sense the arrant pandering to the crowd with its overkill in what appeared to be an attempt to amplify the predecessor’s sense of style. Keep in mind that effective world-building, cohesion, memorable characters, and clever subversion are among the most crucial factors that contributed to the first film’s success; the campy style was only one component. With the former three elements out of the picture, no excess use of "f" bombs, retreaded jokes, or action goosed up on steroids will capture the original’s allure.
Additionally, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is loaded with problems. For a start, this film’s Statesman aspect falls flat on its face. In my opinion, the Statesman were devoid of personality or charm and their depiction on screen was nothing more than a bland caricature of upscale American southerners. The script didn’t appear to have an idea on what to do with those new characters, and the woefully underused Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges felt more like glorified cameos to draw in box office results. So instead of being a distinctive entity, the Statesman are relegated to plot device status; they only exist to bring Harry back into the picture and as Eggsy and Merlin’s fallback after their headquarters is destroyed.
Another glaring issue with this film is how overstuffed it is. Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman clearly had trouble juggling the main storyline along with new characters and subplots. Quite a few subplots were dead-end and a good deal of secondary characters were quite unnecessary. It appears that Vaughn and Goldman were too keen on throwing every crazy idea they could conjure up into the film, and this proved to be its downfall because there simply wasn’t enough room for the movie to breathe, even with the extended runtime of 2 hours and 21 minutes.
Even the villainess was underwhelming. Samuel Jackson’s villainous character in the first film was utilized properly and the contradictions in his personality drew out more than a chuckle. Julianne Moore’s character doesn’t really have anything to do, she simply exists as a device for this film’s clumsily delivered message about the war on drugs and as a trouble-stirring baddie for our heroes to deal with. Poppy’s obsession with 50s diners, Elton John, feral robot dogs, and grinding subordinates up into burgers weren’t very redeeming factors. In fact, I eventually started to feel that all of this over-the-top stuff was just an attempt to offset the film’s shortcomings in the hope that audiences will be simply be pleased.
All in all, I was extremely disappointed with this sequel. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a botched attempted at amplifying the positive qualities of the original, it simply bit off more than it could chew and thus rendered itself messy and overstuffed. Yes, the performances are fine and yes, the production value is good and yes, some of the action was entertaining. But those elements alone do not make a good film. Clearly something is not right when you find yourself fidgeting in your seat during the explosive third act. If I were you I’d give this one a miss.
My score: 4/10