I had high expectations entering the cinema to watch this film. I thoroughly enjoyed Kingsman: The Secret Service that I wanted more of that magic the second time around.
It’s not a thinking man’s movie, that’s for sure. It’s a pure action comedy film that loves to exaggerate and make fun of the spy trope. And Kingsman: The Golden Circle does more of that on a grander scale.
As if mass genocide to help combat global warming wasn’t enough trouble, this time we deal with a more unhinged psychopath Poppy played magnificently by Julianne Moore. Poppy is the head honcho of the drug cartel known as The Golden Circle that distributes all the illegal substances around the world. She wants to be known as a successful businesswoman and she’s going through great, nefarious lengths to make sure her “legacy” is known.
And that’s where the Kingsman, and later on the Statesman, comes in. As you know, the Kingsman is an independent, international intelligence agency operating at the highest level of secrecy and discretion and who has the main goal of keeping the world safe and “sacrificing for the greater good.” This mandate makes them prime target for Poppy and her henchmen. She can’t have these suave gentlemen spies get in her way. And so early on and you’ll see this in the trailers, Kingsman headquarters and its agents around the world have been destroyed and annihilated, leaving Taron Egerton’s Eggsy Unwin/Galahad and Mark Strong’s Merlin to enact the Doomsday Protocol. This protocol brings them to Statesman in Kentucky, an allied intelligence agency based in the US (think Ilvermorny to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter universe). While the Kingsman are tailors, the Statesman’s “cover” and source of income is in the whiskey business.
There we meet a new set of characters starring some Hollywood heavyweights. You might have heard of them Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, and Pedro Pascal, who are aptly named Ginger Ale, Tequila, Champagne, and Whiskey, respectively.
The two agencies align to put a stop to Poppy’s plans and that’s when things get really messy and ridiculously fun.
The fight scenes in The Golden Circle don’t let up. Right from the get-go we are treated with one outlandish fight scene after another. If you felt The Secret Service needed more fight scenes, The Golden Circle repays you tenfold. And these get more comedic. I’m not sure how they do it but I found myself laughing (and cursing) through a lot of these scenes.
There are more fun gadgets that Galahad and the crew get to play around with and they get even sillier, too. The umbrella is still there but we see things like an electric lasso and a briefcase that is both a gun and a shield. If only all spy films had more of these cool yet whimsical toys, too.
One supposed twist that wasn’t really hidden from us in the trailers or posters is the return of Colin Firth’s character Harry Hart/the original Galahad. We see the great chemistry between Harry, Eggsy, and Merlin play again before our eyes. But this time, we’re dealing with Harry’s impairments due to events from the previous film and we find a more introspective father figure in him. It’s one of the rare times the film touches on emotions rather well. Strong’s Merlin is also particularly impactful in this film and is at the center of one of the more emotional parts of this movie. I loved all the callbacks to the first film and the witty writing laced with so many innuendos I was laughing way too much and way too loudly throughout the movie.
I have to say again that this isn’t a thinking man’s film. But overall, it isn’t one for a feeling man, either. Sure there’s more “romance” in this respect. But the movie has always been more about the bros, or gents in this case, than trying to get meatier roles for the women. Moore’s Poppy aside, Berry’s Ginger Ale felt a bit underutilized. I personally wanted more badass women in the film. There’s also one particular scene at a music festival that could’ve been handled differently.
Actually, the Statesman all felt underutilized and were brought on for the resources and the star power the likes of Bridges, Tatum, Berry, and Pascal bring to the film. Pascal’s character and motivations in the film felt particularly flimsy to me.
If there is one new character I got particularly excited about outside of Poppy, it would definitely be Elton John. Calling him a scene-stealer is an understatement. I won’t get into who his character is but he was a delight.
And if there’s one thing that resonated with last night’s audience, it had to be the whole “War on Drugs” aspect the film touches on. I’m pretty sure that will spark debates and possibly fights from both sides of the fence. It all felt so eerily similar to what we’re going through at the moment that it made me think we’re living in some parallel universe where the Kingsman and Stateman and The Golden Circle exists. The movie might not give you much time to think but that moment will surely resonate.
Relentless seems to be an apt description for The Golden Circle. It feels like roller coaster constantly building up and then dropping back down at such pivotal moments. It’s as fun, if not funner, than the first film. If you loved The Secret Service, this would be a delight to watch.
“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is now showing in cinemas nationwide.