Published on September 29th, 2017 | by Tim Cooper
Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Film Review
Reviewed by Tim Cooper on the 28th of September 2017
Fox presents a film by Matthew Vaughn
Produced by Matthew Vaughn, David Reid and Adam Bohling
Screenplay by Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn, based on Kingsman by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons
Starring Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges
Music by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson
Cinematography George Richmond
Edited by Eddie Hamilton
Running Time: 140 minutes
Release Date: the 21st of September 2017
With Kingsman: The Golden Circle, director Mathew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class, 2011) returns to follow up the first instalment of the series, which was based on the comic book characters featured in The Secret Service. The 2014 film was a commercially successful film that tailored new school effects heavy action with a well-worn old school James Bond aesthetic. While the supporting characters mostly missed the mark (Samuel L. Jackson’s villain Valentine was distracting and far too ridiculous even for a film of this manner), the two lead characters of Eggsy and Harry, played by Taron Egerton and Colin Firth, respectively, held enough opposing charm to keep viewers interested.
Despite Kingsman: The Secret Service starring numerous American actors, the film’s delivery was innately British. In not attempting to be the sparkling cocktail of cinematic class like Skyfall (2012), the film offered many stylistic nods to the past and delivered them at a breakneck modern pace. Once scene that can only be described as a one-man rampage needed to be seen to be believed for its sheer unbridled and violent abandonment. The Secret Service tapped into a dual audience of youth and the nostalgia-driven and then showed off its intentions with glee. This is where The Golden Circle fails to deliver as a sequel. In attempting to rope in the dominant American box office, the series has already faltered and has lost much of its already questionable charm.
Shifting gears across the pond early in the first act is the film’s biggest misstep and unfortunately it never recovers. After the English-based headquarters of the elite spy agency The Kingsman is destroyed, Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) call on their American counterparts for help in thwarting the evil plans of drug terrorist Poppy (Julianne Moore). The American supporting cast of Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and particularly Julianne Moore are adequate in their performances by playing up to the heightened reality with obvious panache. Contrastingly, Halle Berry remains soft in delivery and lacks any magnetic on-screen presence, and Poppy Delevingne (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, 2017) makes the film’s worst scene even more of a laborious chore to endure. Seemingly more perturbed about what filter she and Eggsy will throw on their selfie in the darkened corner of her Glastonbury tent, her performance and more importantly, the scripted role she was given are both juvenile and distracting to the already wafer-thin plot.
Channing Tatum has a knack for comic delivery but really hasn’t found the role to show off those skills yet. Jeff Bridges largely goes to waste in a character so predictable that casting a different actor doesn’t even seem like an option. Julianne Moore confidently stands apart in pure relish of her bizarre role. Smiling sadistically throughout, she keeps her scenes afloat through her perfect delivery and acting as an excellent counterpoint to all the suited-up male posturing. Her scenes with a cameo role by Sir Elton John will stand aside as one of the weirdest on-screen pairings of the year. Strangely out of place in the narrative structure of the story, their scenes at least offer the very British ideal of being able to have a laugh at yourself.
With Firth’s name on the poster and his appearance in the trailer, it’s not exactly a spoiler to say Harry will return at some point. After being dealt a bullet to the brain in The Secret Service, Harry is copy and pasted back into the sequel’s narrative via a miracle medical gel. Forget your Jet Packs or Bagpipe Flamethrower, it’s the new age and super putty can bring back the dead back to their super-spy life. Firth’s character is a welcome presence for these films, though his return removes any real sense of danger during the action scenes. The ridiculous plot bandaging aside, his performance helps to bring a sense of familiarity amongst the host of underwhelming new characters.
Taron Egerton seems more comfortable this time around and manages to hold his own against a seasoned pro like Firth, but only by the skin of his teeth. Eggsy doesn’t have enough depth to appeal to a wider audience and this results in a less than engaging lead character. Without his Kingsman suit Eggsy looks like someone more likely to pinch your wallet at the train station than to save the world from destruction. While this is the point of his character, it doesn’t make him any more interesting, especially the second time around. Sophie Cookson reprises her role as Roxy but she only has limited screen time. Her and Eggsy’s shared screen time in the first film was enjoyable and is sorely missed in this follow up for a number of reasons, least of all being the lack of strong female characters in an already bloated male cast.
Mathew Vaughn is colourful director who seems to enjoy indulging in over-the-top action. However, during the opening scene of The Golden Circle, which places Eggsy in a car chase across London, he seems to lose his grip entirely. Flush with CGI effects and camera assists, the scene plays out closer to a cartoon and disappointingly borders on the banality of the dire The Fast and the Furious films. Spectacle is important in a film of this nature but so is exhibiting a level of control. The over-the-top construction of this scene cannot be backed up by realistic looking special effects. Much like the rest of the film, this results in something mildly entertaining but confused and will only date a film like this much quicker than it should.
The Kingsman: The Golden Circle is disposable fun. It won’t win any new fans or even blow away those that enjoyed the first film. Much of the ridiculous English charm has been replaced in favour of shared screen time with the predictable and somewhat boring American cast. While providing enough action and familiar jokes, the enjoyment of this film is not unlike being forced fed a delicious looking burger from Poppy’s diner. For those that will actually see The Golden Circle, that will make sense at the end of the film.
Summary: It won’t win any new fans or even blow away those that enjoyed the first film. Much of the ridiculous English charm has been replaced in favour of shared screen time with the predictable and somewhat boring American cast.