Kingsman: The Golden Circle (aka Kingsman 2) review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso
The sequel to Kingsman doesn’t make any attempt to instill a more James Bond-like dignity. If the previous film with its exploding heads was considered dumb, The Golden Circle is super dumb with its robotic dogs and bodies in meat grinders. Its story is too ridiculous, its action overblown, and depravity at its highest levels that crosses a line or two. In other words, the lesser sequel.
That’s not to say Golden Circle doesn’t have its golden moments. There’s a little bit of that zing left. Eggsy (Taron Egerton) returns as a more competent spy, armed with high-tech cars and weaponry. But he’ll lose all of that when a new terrorist threat plays the old game of sequel clean sweep, leaving only special agent Merlin (Mark Strong) to help him. With the Kingsman base gone, they hightail it to America for an even more outlandish secret agent society run out of a whiskey company. It’s a neat idea, but not exactly all that clever, considering one of its agents is Jack Daniels (Pedro Pascal) and Tequila (Channing Tatum).
The new villain is an odd one, the wealthy Poppy (Julianne Moore) who likes to run her drug cartel with a 1950s flair. Just because her operations are run out of the jungle doesn’t mean she can’t have diners, milkshakes, and hamburgers. And robotic dogs for some reason. I guess they’re easier to take care of than living ones. Her master plan is to infect the world with a drug that will exterminate life for those unwittingly took her substance and use it to hold governments hostage to make her drug selling less illegal. Her plans and themes seem all over the map, from the branding of her cohorts with a circle of gold to the celebrity hostage of Elton John who will play for her whenever she likes.
This film is a chaotic mess, from random insertion of Elton John songs to planting a tracking device inside genitals to the extremely clunky means of reviving Colin Firth back into the series. But what saves most of the film is the commitment to the audacity, mostly from the actors. There’s no reason for Firth to come back into this series other than his natural charm and chemistry with Egerton. There’s no reason for Elton John to play a role in the climax other than cracking some silly jokes, but, man, is he fun to watch kicking bad guy butt. The action sequences merely double-down on the fast pace set by the previous film’s church massacre, still looking good if not feeling too familiar.
There are far too many players in this story that few get to shine as well as Firth, Egerton, and Strong. Pedro Pascal has his moments of fun the way he battles with an electric whip, but Channing Tatum is tough to watch, touting a shotgun with a severely lacking southern accent. Halle Berry is pleasant to watch as a nerdy special agent but there’s so little of her that I was thirsty for more. And the inclusion of Jeff Bridges as head of the whiskey secret agent base is certainly fitting but never fully realized. I will give credit to Bruce Greenwood, however, who does an exceptional job playing a cocky and full-of-himself President of the United States, far more concerned with his job than the American people.
The Golden Circle certainly won’t have fans of the original salivating for more but there’s such a bombastic nature at play that it’s the most explosive and over-the-top way to end this saga. It depletes all remaining ounces of zaniness, graphic violence, and ludicrous plot developments to make it a love it or hate it film, ensuring the prospect of a third film to be dull with repetition. This is one more round that is so sour you’ll either wheeze with delight or spit it out in disgust. At any rate, it’s the last call for Kingsman.