Kingsman: The Golden Circle Review
At least Firth is back
Matthew Vaughn does his first sequel, to the fun hit action-comedy Kingsman: The Secret Service based on Mark Millar's excellent graphic novel.Undoubtedly Millar's input will be missed but Vaughn has plenty of experience with this kind of dark and adult action-comedy comic-book blockbuster, having made the tremendously entertaining anti-superhero flick, Kick-Ass (also penned by Millar), as well as, of course, Kingsman itself. Indeed the same rich vein of dark humour pervades many of his films - right back to the excellent debut, Layer Cake. Despite having done franchise work before on the impressive but flawed X-Men: First Class (which would have been better as a straight Magneto origin movie), this is Vaughn's first sequel to one of his own films, and it's impossible to ignore the law of diminishing returns with Kingsman: The Golden Circle, no matter how much he tries to bring to the table.Throwing up everything, and hoping something sticks, The Golden Circle is - below the surface - paper thin. Another generic evil villain is trying to decimate the world (this time by spreading drugs tainted by a virus). The motivations are terrible, and the threat carries no weight whatsoever. In order to prevent them responding, the elite Kingsmen are taken out, leaving only Eggsy and Merlin to try and solve the problem, journeying to Kentucky to join the US Statesmen, who offer their resources in stopping the threat. Meanwhile an old, familiar face reappears - the previous Galahad: Eggsy's mentor, Harry - although the bullet he took to the head has left him missing a few pieces. Will they be able to put him back together in time to save the world?
The Golden Circle is a bloated, noisy mess. Sure, it's flashy and well put-together, but it takes far too long to get going - for a movie with Firth plastered across the posters, promo teasers, trailers and credits, he doesn't appear for almost an hour - and then goes on to completely outstay its welcome.
Julianne Moore cashes a pay cheque for he lazy work here, although it's nowhere near as bad as the new depths Elton John goes to, playing a physical running gag that runs out of steam long before his fifth reappearance. However it's actually the Statesmen themselves who truly disappoint - not because of performances (Tatum, Bridges, Narcos's Pedro Pascal and even Halle Berry are all perfectly fine and fun) but because they are utterly redundant in the story. Including them here is no less of a marketing move than having Tony Stark spend more time in China in Iron Man 3; it's merely a tool to get The Golden Circle better coverage in US cinemas.
Vaughn had too much money to play with this time around and, little by little, went utterly derivative
Firth, and his character's arc, is perhaps the only vaguely redeeming feature - and might have been enough to make for an interesting movie (the reversal of the first, with Firth having to re-learn his skills from Eggsy) but it's too little, too late, and by then we've gone one vaginal tracker insertion too far for any kind of hope of redemption.
Millar's Kingsmen provided great material that director Matthew Vaughn could fashion into a solid comic book spy actioner, delivering thrills on a modest budget, and laced with a great streak of dark, dirty humour. It's was unpredictable and, in moments (like the memorable church scene), managed to do something different with a fairly familiar genre, injecting just the right amount of trademark over-stylised action into the mix. The Golden Circle doubles down on all the wrong elements, blasting you with noise and fury from the outset, drowning you with charmless excess. Vaughn had too much money to play with this time around and, little by little, went utterly derivative.
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