Kingsman: The Golden Circle Review

“Man­ners maketh man. Do you know what that means?” Af­ter watch­ing both films in the “Kings­man” se­ries now, in my mind, that quote prob­a­bly means you should wear a styl­ish suit from a tai­lor and be­come a spy in a mat­ter of days. So, while most ac­tion se­quels usu­ally don’t end up achiev­ing the sta­tus of be­ing bet­ter than the orig­i­nal, it ap­peared that “Kings­man: The Golden Cir­cle” could do just that.

With their head­quar­ters de­stroyed and the world held hostage, mem­bers of Kings­man find new al­lies when they dis­cover a spy or­ga­ni­za­tion in the United States known as States­man. In an ad­ven­ture that tests their strength and wits, the elite se­cret agents from both sides of the pond band to­gether to bat­tle a ruth­less en­emy and save the day, some­thing that’s be­com­ing a bit of a habit for Eggsy, our dash­ing young Kings­man hero.

Colin Firth, Pedro Pascal, and Taron Egerton in Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

I was a huge fan of “Kings­man: The Se­cret Ser­vice” when it was re­leased back in 2015. It was one of those movies that was a to­tal sur­prise. It took a slick and styl­ish ap­proach to­ward spy genre with its ac­tion, hu­mor and see­ing it as a homage to the clas­sic spy films like the James Bond movies. It was one of my fa­vorites of that year. I was just wait­ing for the next film to come out, as I thought “Kings­man” could be a strong new fran­chise.

Matthew Vaughn re­turns to di­rect the sec­ond in­stall­ment, which is great. He’s a di­rec­tor that is­n’t known for di­rect­ing se­quels. With that, you would ex­pect “Kings­man: The Golden Cir­cle” to be big­ger and bet­ter in this uni­verse adapted from the comic book se­ries. And in some ways, it is. But in re­al­ity, this ended up be­ing a mud­dled se­quel that should’ve been so much bet­ter.

Taron Egerton as Eggsy is still great. This was the role that made him a break­out per­former as a street-kid-turned-gen­tle­man join­ing Kings­man. He truly car­ries the film with­out any trou­bles what­so­ever.

Colin Firth and Mark Strong, re­turn­ing as Harry Hart and Mer­lin, re­spec­tively, were also both good. One of the things that had me wor­ried go­ing into this was how Vaughn was go­ing to ex­plain how Harry sur­vived from the last film. But when they of­fered an ex­pla­na­tion, I could­n’t buy it be­cause, quite sim­ply, it’s il­log­i­cal. I still love that Har­ry’s in here, but Vaughn needed a bet­ter way to ex­plain why he’s back.

Taron Egerton in Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

The story it­self did­n’t have nearly as clear a fo­cus as the first, due to some sub­plots that don’t do any­thing to drive the film for­ward and are eas­ily for­got­ten with their un­bal­anced tone struc­ture. The film also pulls a lazy copout when it tries to re­hash the best things about the first film.

And then you have Ju­lianne Moore as the main vil­lain, Poppy. She runs a drug car­tel deep in the mid­dle of the jun­gle, where she’s sur­rounded by 1950’s spy thriller nos­tal­gia with her ro­bot dogs (yep) and a virus im­planted into many of the drugs peo­ple use daily. As great an ac­tress she is, here, her per­for­mance was over-the-top and silly. She was­n’t nearly as great a vil­lain as Samuel L. Jack­son in the last film. Even though he was por­tray­ing a goofy vil­lain, Jack­son’s act­ing was rea­son­able. Moore’s per­for­mance was fine for what is was, but could’ve been writ­ten bet­ter.

The ac­tion se­quences in here are fine for what they are, but, again, they don’t com­pare to the first one. The film throws you into the first se­quence in un­der two min­utes, and it re­ally kicks the film into high gear for a killer open­ing. How­ever, per­son­ally, there is­n’t any­thing in the se­quel that comes close to that uniquely awe­some church scene in the orig­i­nal.

The way the ac­tion is han­dled here was just a lit­tle ridicu­lous. It goes from zero to 60 very quickly, leav­ing the stakes feel­ing lim­ited, and later leav­ing the stakes be­hind al­to­gether, es­pe­cially with heavy use of CGI. This makes the film’s 141-minute run time feel bloated. There are times where I got bored and just wanted some­thing ex­cit­ing to hap­pen.

Channing Tatum in Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

One in­ter­est­ing as­pect of the film is the con­cept of other Kings­man-like or­ga­ni­za­tions in dif­fer­ent coun­tries. I was in­trigued on how they would han­dle States­man, the Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts of Kings­man. The States­men are played by Chan­ning Tatum, Halle Berry, Pe­dro Pas­cal (“Nar­cos”) and Jeff Bridges. Just from those ac­tors’ names alone, it would seem like they’d steal the show, right? Well…they do, kind of, but very lit­tle. This wasted po­ten­tial is flat-out frus­trat­ing; both Tatum and Bridges did­n’t have a lot of screen time. This was the op­por­tu­nity to in­tro­duce new char­ac­ters, and it was wasted.

“The Golden Cir­cle” also was­n’t very clever with its hu­mor. Very few of the jokes pro­vided just did­n’t work. There were mo­ments where I did laugh, and half of them came from Sir El­ton John in a cameo every­body knew about be­fore the film’s re­lease any­way. Most view­ers prob­a­bly won’t agree with this, but I thor­oughly en­joyed John’s cameo in the film.

One of my fa­vorite as­pects about the first film was Henry Jack­man and Matthew Margeson’s fan­tas­tic score, and that com­pli­ment stands with the se­quel. The sound­track still brought that grav­i­tas to some of the ac­tion. But how dare they not play a “Take That” song dur­ing the cred­its? A ma­jor­ity of Vaugh­n’s films have a song by the group in­cluded some­where.

To be hon­est, I could­n’t help but com­pare this to the first film. There was some­thing spe­cial about the orig­i­nal. Even though it has its mo­ments of ridicu­lous­ness and over-the-top scenes, it still has a sub­stan­tial bal­ance in the way it’s han­dled, so that it’s easy to be at­tached to the story, mak­ing it fan­tas­tic and mem­o­rable. In this se­quel, Vaughn goes out of his way to make it big­ger and some­times out of con­trol.

The first film was com­pared to “Men in Black.” And this is hard to say, but this se­quel, as of now, is the “Men in Black II” of the fran­chise. That’s what hap­pens when one of the most an­tic­i­pated movies of the year ends up falling flat. It’s not a bad se­quel, but it’s the biggest let­down of the year for many rea­sons, es­pe­cially com­ing from a di­rec­tor like Vaughn.

Kings­man: The Golden Cir­cle”, in ret­ro­spect, is fun and brought the ac­tion we love from the se­ries, but it’s dis­ap­point­ing in the fact that it does­n’t re­tain that en­joy­ment from its greater pre­de­ces­sor. 

Grade: C

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