Film review – Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a tiresome spy sequel that forgets why first film was great
Taron Egerton, Colin Firth and Mark Strong all return in Matthew Vaughn’s follow-up to Kingsman: The Secret Service, but this 140-minute monster goes downhill quickly after a promising start while lacking the charm of the original
Inspired by the Mark Millar comic, Matthew Vaughn’s 2014 action-adventure Kingsman: The Secret Service gave a refreshing boot up James Bond’s backside with its tale of a gentlemanly espionage outfit and the working class lad who makes good. Its commercial success meant a sequel was inevitable.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle starts impressively, with a beautifully directed fight sequence in a London taxi cab as Eggsy (Taron Egerton) faces off with a rejected Kingsman applicant (Edward Holcroft) now working for the psychotic drug-cartel queen Poppy (Julianne Moore) and her Golden Circle. But Vaughn front-loads his film: nothing in this tiresome 140-minute monster comes close to the early scenes.
Within minutes, Poppy has blown up all the Kingsman agents bar Eggsy and his cohort Merlin (Mark Strong), a bloody scenario that leads these survivors to the Statesman – a similarly elite espionage agency who distil Kentucky bourbon as cover.
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With Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry and Channing Tatum among the Statesman team, Eggsy and Merlin make a shocking discovery: Colin Firth’s Harry Hart, shot dead in the original movie, has been rescued and the bullet wound in his brain repaired with nano-technology.
Kingsman was always meant to be cartoonish – Poppy has robot dogs in her Cambodian compound and makes her new recruits eat hamburgers made from the human flesh of those that cross her – but after Harry’s miraculous return, The Golden Circle turns plain ridiculous.
The film gets really bad with the prolonged inclusion of Elton John as himself; kidnapped by Poppy, he spends his time either swearing or bashing out Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting to accompany a montage of mayhem.
Like its predecessor, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is crude at times (Eggsy having to place a tracking device on a female target – played by Poppy Delevingne, no less – in a very intimate place) but it lacks the charm of the original. With Harry afflicted by amnesia, it is as if the same brain fog has fallen upon Vaughn and his co-writer Jane Goldman. They have forgotten what made the first film great.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle opens on September 21
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