So far, the majority of the reviews I’ve read for Kingsman: the Golden Circle have been negative and, as per usual, I’m going to have to disagree. I have only one complaint myself; the trailer way oversold Channing Tatum’s role.
In fact, the majority of the all-star cast for Kingsman: the Golden Circle were unused with the exception of the three main characters: Eggsy (Taron Egerton), Merlin (Mark Strong) and the returning Harry Hart/Galahad (Colin Firth). That said, you should definitely look out for a standout (and somewhat gratuitously and wonderfully lewd) extended cameo from someone – I won’t mention the name to avoid spoilers – and a truly disgusting scene involving Keith Allen and a meat dicer.
There’s a lot packed into The Golden Circle’s whopping 141 minute runtime. It opens with a car chase involving an old nemesis, precedes to a gag about Eggsy’s dual lifestyle as both Kingsman agent and boyfriend to a princess, before getting to the meat and potatoes of it all; the near total destruction of the Kingsman network by all-American villain Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore). Poppy is an extremely successful drug kingpin who has poisoned her supply in order to hold users to ransom in a bid to legalize the drug trade.
The two survivors of the attack on Kingsman, Eggsy and Merlin, team up with their counterparts at Kingsman’s American cousins, Statesman in a race to save the world (and Eggy’s girlfriend)… And there’s also an explanation for Harry’s reappearance, since the rumors of his death appear to be greatly exaggerated.
Writer Jane Goldman and director Michael Vaughn obviously had way too much fun with the introduction of the Statesman, flirting with cliché and openly mocking Donald Trump’s Presidency (or really, any brash American President you want to substitute – there’re plenty to choose from, after all). There’s something deliciously nasty about the idea that the so-called “leader of the free world” would allow the world’s population of drug users to die in order to win the “war on drugs”.
Equally unsettling is the feeling that the entire situation is not as implausible as it might at first seem (lest we forget, the real US President recently told the UN that he would have no problem with wiping N. Korea off the map – that’s around 25 million people). The culture clash between the two organizations replaces, in part, the Pygmalion-esque current that ran through the previous movie and gives rise to a fairly epic fight scene involving an impressively deadly lasso.
So much is packed into this film that the story lacks the depth it might have done had it been stretched out over a two-parter. There wasn’t as much need for character development as in the first go round but it would have been nice to get to know some of the new characters a little better. That said,Kingsman: the Golden Circle does draw a nice balance between parodic comedy and real emotion.
It isn’t often that the death of a character in a comedy movie leaves me openly sobbing in the cinema and yet that’s a thing that definitely happened. There’s something brilliant about a comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously, yet provides glimpses of real humanity and depth to its characters to the extent that audiences become properly attached.
There is, perhaps, an inherent current of casual, unintentional misogyny running through these movies but honestly, that’s to be expected. Goldman and Vaughn are parodying spy/action movies, which themselves tend to be misogynistic. The Bond movies, for example, have always objectified women (although less so in the Daniel Craig versions), treating them as little more than “eye candy” and damsels in distress. At least The Golden Circle features a female villain. Sure, she’s insane, but so was Samuel L. Jackson’s villainous Valentine in the previous installment.
In short, the fight sequences in Kingsman: the Golden Circle are bloody brilliant, Taron Egerton is his epicaly hilarious self and the whole thing is completely, utterly ridiculous. But Kingsman movies are meant to be ridiculous so that’s more than okay. It’s all a bit of a laddish cliché, albeit a cliché with some fun, risqué edges and some truly wonderful characters and humor.