Although it isn't quite as good as the first film, Kingsman 2 is still a rip-roaring doozy of insane spying, brutal action and off-beat comedy.
After the success of the first Kingsman movie, it was inevitable that a sequel would get green lit shortly after. Kingsman: The Golden Circle has all the exaggeration, humour and downright insanity of the predecessor, but lacks the polished storytelling and panache that the first film holds to a high standard.
Starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Edward Holcroft, Hanna Alstrom and Sophie Cookson reprising their roles from the first film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle introduces a new threat in the sugary-sweet but utterly depraved Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) and her worldwide drug cartel, The Golden Circle. Fortunately, the London spies have support in their new American counterparts, The New Statesman with Pedro Pascal, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum all joining the already star-studded cast.
The major criticism of The Golden Circle is the excessively long run time. Although there is a solid basis behind the plot of the film, with some perceptive discussion around the drugs trade and arguments for legalisation, it lags far too much at times. The impressive car chase which opens the film is a spectacular set-piece which introduces Charlie Hesketh, Eggsy’s secondary antagonist for the film but it is quickly lost amongst the Eggsy-Tilde romantic subplot which is shoe-horned into The Golden Circle. Also, be prepared for a lot of death. At times it is hackneyed and unnecessary and perhaps harms the genuine emotional gravitas which the film could have.
The introduction of the Statesman certainly adds something to the plot. Considerably different to their English counterparts, they serve the stereotype well as being brute force over the English brains. Pedro Pascal is excellent in his role as Whiskey and his ulterior motives whilst being surprising actually fit quite well into the plot, despite the aforementioned problems. Channing Tatum is also excellent as Tequila and works as superb early comic irony and it is a shame that events in the fall knock him out of action very quickly.
Often, the scenes are stolen by Julianne Moore and her psychotic Poppy Adams. Her sickening happiness is only contrasted with her psychopathic tendencies and her portrayal of mental illness is surprisingly effective, combining well with her strange adoration for robots and in particular her metal dogs- Bennie and Jet named after the classic Elton John track. It would be unfair to spoil how excellent Elton’s cameos throughout the film are, but it is probably safe to say it is worth watching the film for these moments alone- he demonstrates a keen self-awareness for performance and action befitting a showman like himself.
Whilst the special effects are impressive and the dialogue is certainly strong enough to keep audiences interested, the film does wane a bit towards the end and the climax is a bit predictable and feels like a cop-out from director Matthew Vaughn. Even more surprising is the DVD release featuring a multitude of Still Galleries and the Kingsman Archives revealing some interesting additional content about the Kingsman and Statesman as well as their enemies. The most spectacular Special Feature is Black Cab Chaos: Anatomy of a Killer Chase which offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes insight into the construction and execution of the stunning car-chase which opens the film.
Whilst Kingsman: The Golden Circle isn’t quite the rip-roaring, exaggerated loving pastiche of the spy genre which the first film offered, it is still impressive enough to warrant viewing. If it had been slightly shorter and more focused towards the plot rather than meandering off on other subplots, it would have matched the first film. It’s still very good.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017), directed by Matthew Vaughn, is released on Blu-ray disc and DVD in the UK by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, certificate 15.