Starring: Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Channing Tatum, Pedro Pascal, Halle Berry and Julianne Moore with Jeff Bridges and Colin Firth
Directed by Matthew Vaughn (Based on the graphic novel by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons)
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
My Rating: ****/5
“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is the sequel to the surprise hit film “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” While this film may not be the breath of fresh air that its predecessor was, it still proves to be a very fun and totally insane take on the spy genre that serves as a solid sequel and a savage take on society and pop culture.
After an impressive opening taxi chase on the streets of London set to “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) must regroup after an attack on Kingsman by the criminal organization known as the Golden Circle. With their base of operations compromised and many of their colleagues being killed, they opt to team with their American counterparts at Statesman in order to combat the supervillain Poppy (Julianne Moore), who plans to take advantage of the war on drugs in order to unleash a lethal neurotoxin around the world.
If the description of the plot in the previous paragraph sounds totally mad, you’d be right. Much like the previous film, the movie knows how ridiculous the presentation is and dives full-force into over-the-top action in its 141-minute runtime. Julianne Moore is simply delicious as a villain with a compound based on an uncannily cheerful depiction of 1950s nostalgia. Containing a space-age beauty parlor, robotic dogs that would not be out of place in the “Transformers” films, and Elton John (starring in a hammy cameo as himself) as a hostage; she takes great glee in wanting to kill millions of people and even is willing to turn henchmen that fail her into food for her diner. Just imagine if Johnny Rocket’s started serving Soylent Green and you’ve got it.
Much like how the first film was an over-the-top sendup of the more bizarre elements of the “James Bond” franchise and the spy genre as a whole; this sequel extends the fun to joyfully spoofing the tropes and characters of American action films. The cover for the Statesman is a distillery full of hard-drinking, gunslinging; laser-lassoing cowboys. The organization is rife with unique characters such as the bad boy “Tequila” (Channing Tatum), the mysterious “Whiskey” (Pedro Pascal); key technical aid “Ginger Ale” (Halle Berry) and senior member “Champagne,” or “Champ” for short (Jeff Bridges).
One admitted flaw is one that may vary depending on your point of view: if you are easily offended, this film is definitely not for you. The film is an equal opportunity offender, and much like its predecessor, no target is too low or off-limits for the film. Still, even with that in mind, the film is an overall solid follow-up to the original “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” The cast puts on a series of impressive performances, with Jeff Bridges channeling the same kind of laid-back attitude he brought to the Coen brothers’ cult classic “The Big Lebowski.” On a budget of $104 million, the film contains some very snazzy special effects and creative action scenes. The final battle in Poppy’s compound in Cambodia is set to a “hick-hop” cover of Cameo’s “Word Up” by the bluegrass band The Boss Hoss.
Even if the film may be somewhat more polarizing than the previous one (the film currently sits at a 50% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing), the box office marks a gain over the original that may leave the door open for a third film in the near future. Overall, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is a flawed but fun sequel that’s definitely worth viewing. Long live the Kingsman.
Review by Steven Pryor