Kingsman: The Secret Service was a very pleasant, very fun surprise in the world of cinema! A great James Bond parody spy film that harkened back to the old, classic spy movies of over-the-top set pieces, unabashedly evil bad guys who love showing how evil they are with deeds instead of just talking about it, and good old fashioned silly fun! With expectations set, to say pressure was high for the sequel would be an understatement. The Golden Circle being the first sequel directed by Matthew Vaughn to a movie that Vaughn himself directed, Kingsman has officially become a movie franchise! If only The Golden Circle was a better movie to show for it.
The Golden Circle takes place a year after the events of The Secret Service. A new threat has emerged in the form of the titular drug cartel/corporation (long story) led by Julianne Moore’s (The Fugitive, Boogie Nights) Poppy Adams. (Get it?!) Adams is essentially Pablo Escobar if he were an Americana-obsessed female psychopath. Adams’ plan is to poison her entire consumer base with a new poison she herself made, applied to her drugs, and when everyone starts experiencing symptoms, demand to the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood) to legalize marijuana, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, and any other drug I can’t think of at the moment, and be unconditionally pardoned and allowed to continue running her business.
I know Adams is insane, but I feel like someone who demonstrates as clear an intelligence as she does in this movie would realize that that last part of her plan would not happen under any US government administration. Not one that wants to win re-election and continue governing the country anyways. Yes, I know this is meant for the specific characterization of POTUS we soon see in the movie, but Secret Service, as dumb as the characterization was for its own politicians, including Obama himself, kept it just ridiculously campy enough where you could laugh it up. Here, it’s clearly meant to be taken far more seriously and I just can’t take deadly seriously anything political in a movie franchise that has established itself as celebratory in its own ludicrously fun nonsense as Kingsman. Golden Circle is a sequel to a movie that had most of the world’s political class die via rainbow explosions in the head.
The remnants of the British Kingsman, having been almost completely wiped out ahead of time by Adams, except for Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong), travel to team with their American counterparts, The Statesmen! Do the Statesmen hold up as great as the Kingsmen? They sure seem like they would. I wish we had had more time to explore them. I do not exaggerate when I say we barely see anything of what looks and sounds like a cool organization. I know the movie needs an excuse to move the action to America, but that’s literally all the Statesmen do in this movie. Even that’s barely justification as none of the action really happens stateside. The movie actually goes back to England for a scene and at one point they travel to Italy and I guess they didn’t think it may be good to work with whatever the Italian version of Kingsman?
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) is back as Harry Hart, having been previously presumed dead. Hart is alive because Kingsman is a movie franchise now and the studio knows he’s a fan favorite character, meaning those theater seats will be filled for the sequels and spin-offs. At least he has plenty of screen-time and a character arc, which is more than can be said for Statesman.
Despite their heavy presence in the marketing, Channing Tatum’s (21 Jump Street, The Hateful 8), Halle Berry’s (X-Men, Monster’s Ball), and Jeff Bridges’ (Iron Man, Hell or High Water) combined screen-time is less than that of Elton John! To say Elton John has six(!) cameos is a massive understatement! John is more significant supporting character than celebrity cameo! At one point he even performs martial arts!
Ironically the only Statesman who has more screen-time than Elton John, the only one who we ever see a lot of, is the one whose name is absent from the marketing campaign almost entirely. If Pedro Pascal’s name is anywhere in the promotional material it is not on any posters or trailers or cardboard stand-ups I’ve seen. Ironic considering his newfound popularity and fame from the critically acclaimed television shows Game of Thrones and Narcos. Agent Whiskey (who apparently is also “Jack Daniels”, according to Wikipedia and IMDb) shows off plenty of Statesman skills and weapons, and there is some tension later on between him and Hart, which is exactly what you’re expecting to be and plays out exactly as you expect it to.
All in all, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the typical 80s action movie sequel. Passable enough for a cable television re-run, contains its own fun moments, but not nearly as memorable or fun as the original movie. Vaughn has talked of directing a third movie, ideally with Dwayne Johnson as the villain, so if only for continuity’s sake, I recommend waiting to rent Golden Circle, or wait for it to show up on a streaming service, or reruns on cable television.
*Image Source: www.atomix.vg