Review: Kingsman – The Golden Circle (2017)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (dir. Matthew Vaughn, 2017) – After their headquarters come under attack, the Kingsman sets out to stop the perpetrator, who has also sparked a global, drug-induced epidemic.

Verdict

Doubling down on the havoc, Kingsman ups the ante on fun but needs to do better than waste its band of characters.

3/5

Review

Perfect tailored suits, a bare essential of the Hollywood spy repertoire. From every iconic incarnation of Bond to the sharp-dressed men of U.N.C.L.E., no world-defending agent has ever left for a mission without being dressed to the nines. And so there seems no better front than a bespoke tailor shop for Britain’s top-secret service Kingsman, back again for more overblown shoot-outs.

Shame to see their neat headquarters go at the very start. Destruction rains upon good folks, who deserved much more than the hasty farewell they got. But no time for grieving, as Merlin (Mark Strong) puts it. Along with Eggsy (Taron Egerton), now up to snuff and wearing the mantle of Galahad, they fly off to Kentucky on a hunt after the culprit.

Photo: Alex Bailey / 20th Century Fox
“Looks like we’re in the hands of who they call… Magic Mike.”

They would need all the help they can get. Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) replicates the worst habits of Hannibal Lecter and Pablo Escobar, hatching a bloodthirsty kingpin’s dream without batting an eyelid. Her worst crime is also the most fun, as she holds Elton John (in an extended cameo as himself) under duress.

Her scheme follows the showy nature of Richmond Valentine in The Secret Service, elaborate in ploy and mad in execution. Cheers then to the Kingsman’s American counterpart for stepping in. The Statesman brings to the game their slick shotguns and gadgets, inspired by idiosyncrasies of the Old West.

Electrified lassos make for particularly spectacular scenes, courtesy of the cowboy-esque Whiskey (Pedro Pascal). Often left to his own devices when surrounded by enemies, the promising character earns easy adoration for his stout-hearted heroics and mordant humour.

Photo: Alex Bailey / 20th Century Fox
Post-Escobar days – Agent Peña weeds out the narcos at Glastonbury.

That is until an unnecessary attempt at a shake-up turns out a letdown. A ridiculous twist blots out every bit of what could have been with the most interesting character of the lot.

The rest of the crew never gets developed beyond the archetypes of Boss, Punk, and Female Tech. Given the strong cast behind the American agents, it is odd that Champ (Jeff Bridges), Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Ginger (Halle Berry) were not given much to work with.

Any development for the Statesman is kept to a sad minimum, as the teased return of Harry Hart (Colin Firth) takes precedence. Was it all worth it? No seems the answer. The gutsy move to kill off Hart has lost all impact when it turns out any character could have survived a point-blank bullet (or any exploding head, for that matter).

Photo: Alex Bailey / 20th Century Fox
“Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.”

The return of Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström) also comes off cheaply written, retreading the same grounds as a damsel in distress. At this point, an intent for shock or satire feels like a mere excuse to escape criticism. This comes off especially clear in a misogynistic gag that makes light of sexual assault, coming off no more than tasteless.

While admirable for their rare attempt at originality, writers Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman are close to crossing a line. The enjoyable franchise once had plenty of heart in its young hero’s coming-of-age, but has since devolved into an uninspired test of movie boundaries.

Given the talented cast and crew, not forgetting a growing fan base, this could be so much more than a silly cartoon. It would be entirely regrettable to see such an entertaining series end up in stalemate, simply because the writers are choosing the easy way out.

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13 thoughts on “Review: Kingsman – The Golden Circle (2017)

  1. I enjoyed this movie, but nowhere near as much as the original. I tend to always feel let down when established canon is destroyed early in the sequel in the name of moving on. I thought the destruction early on seemed implausible as surely there would be some form of defense? I think Whisky was probably my favourite addition but I agree that his arc was ruined, and its intersection with Harry was forced. I did like the recurring Elton John gags, and Mark Strong stole the show in his “Moment”. That redeemed the movie somewhat. But the first was better.

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    1. I agree completely. The Elton John gags were the best bits, even if excessive. Unfortunately, Kingsman seems to make up the rules as it goes along, which diminishes the impact of certain moments in the original retrospectively. And while Pedro Pascal and Mark Strong were standouts, their characters both deserved much stronger arcs. The latter’s “moment” was a total bummer for me. Here’s hoping for a better sequel! 🙂

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  2. So cool to see a review from you again: missed them 😀 As for this film, I have not seen it in the theatres. As much as I loved the first one after having seen a few trailers for this sequel and reading some reviews, it just did not appeal to me enough. I will certain,y watch it at some point, but I don’t think it really deserved a visit to the cinema. Great review as always 😀

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    1. Thanks much for always checking back! 😊 I reckon too this isn’t worth a trip to the cinema. It would be equally enjoyable on disc or streaming. Besides, there are so many fantastic choices for cinematic viewing now, like Blade Runner 2049!

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  3. I hated the way they just, spoiler alert – killed off Roxy. She’s dispatched of in such a heartless manner. I actually didn’t believe she died, death being an abstract concept in the franchise. Harry being brought back, though one of the few enjoyable parts of the movie, kind of ruins the finality of a bullet to the head. It seems like the only way you can “kill” someone is by putting them through a meat grinder.

    Such a shame about Pedro. He deserved a better role, as did the rest of the Statesman. It baffles me that a movie can have the likes of Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, and Halle Barry and somehow not use them. It makes me wonder why they bothered to include them at all. And you are so right about the sex gag, utterly tasteless. Needless to say, Kingsman lost its manners completely. Glad to see I’m not the only one who feels this way.

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    1. Spoilers I’m so glad you brought up Roxy! Her death was so frustratingly unnecessary. It becomes so painfully obvious how Eggsy, Merlin, and Harry is essentially an all-men’s club without her. This would have been less annoying if the film had not included other female characters, only to treat them as tokenism (Ginger), sex objects (Clara), and recurring victims (Tilde).

      And you’re right on every count about Harry and the Statesman. The characterisation is just poorly handled in this one. Nevertheless, given the criticism across the board, I shall remain cautiously optimistic about the sequel that might fix some of these blips. 😉

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      1. Aside from Eggsy and Harry, there’s practically zero characterization. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much. I enjoyed the first one, particularly Matthew Vaughn’s bonkers direction, but here it’s like he shotgunned a case of 5-hour energy. That opening chase scene was so frenzied that I simply couldn’t follow. He does make up for it in time for the finale, but by then it was too late, and the film itself is already too long for its own good.

        It’ll be interesting to see how the franchise moves forward. I’m also wondering how this may (or may not) affect Vaughn’s chances at directing Man of Steel 2. So many directors now get dropped from consideration due to a lackluster film prior. I can’t help but wonder if Vaughn will be burdened by this or remain unfazed. First Class couldn’t have been a fluke. I would love to see him take on the superhero mythology again.

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    1. Thanks for reading, Tiff! The first Kingsman would be a better film, if you haven’t seen that. It’s a bit like a wilder, rated James Bond movie. I’d love to know what you think when you do get to see either! 🙂

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  4. Your reviews are always very enjoyable to read, be it the good, the bad and the downright weird movie. I didn’t enjoy the trailer, sometimes I get that ‘instinct’ of knowing whether it may be worth watching but I am not sure about this particular movie being a great interest. I hardly watch comic made movies anymore, but I did watch the first kingsman movie and surprisingly enjoyed it’s quirky traits to it. It was edgy shall we say in a pleasing way, notably I loved the bizzare church massacre scene with Harry. The music and aesthetic reminded me a little of the evil dead which is always a good thing. (P.s I am sorry if I miss some of your posts, I am very sick and with trying to do posts of my own and read alot of them overwhelms me at the worst of times but I shall do my very best).

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    1. Thanks much, Sonea! I loved the first Kingsman for the same reasons. It had several moments that came out of nowhere. The church scene was one of the most unpredictable, and it made for some real cathartic fun. The sequel didn’t measure up to it, but there’s still quite a bit of silliness to enjoy. 🙂

      And no worries at all, I understand! I’ve been occupied lately and have been missing out on so many posts too. I really appreciate the time you take to check back every now and then. Hope you’ll feel better soon. It’s always great to hear from you!

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  5. I enjoyed this film but a lot of it felt like an attempt to recapture the magic of the first by taking the action up another notch (or finding another line to cross). The parts that did actually recapture the magic were the character bits so you are exactly right that stronger character work would have made for a better movie!

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    1. Agreed! I enjoyed most of it too, but what a waste of perfectly good cast. I’m hoping the Statesman will get to be part of the action next time. And it’d be cool if they can bring Pedro Pascal back in any way! 😉

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