When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman’s journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.
When ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ was released in early 2015 it felt like a breath of fresh air for the spy movie genre, blending elements of Bond and Bourne with more humour and a sharp, edgy script based on a comic book. The success of that film, both critically and commercially, meant a sequel was inevitable, but given how well the ‘Kingsman’ agency and the environment they operated in was established, I had fairly high hopes that the returning cast and crew could deliver. That’s a long way of getting to saying that ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ is a disappointment, a classic example of a sequel that loses the edge that made the first film so enjoyable.
The film begins by reintroducing the remaining surviving characters, namely Taron Egerton’s Eggsy and Mark Strong’s Merlin, and setting them off on a new mission when a drug cartel known as ‘The Golden Circle’ take out many of their colleagues and much of Kingsman’s infrastructure. That leads them to Kentucky in the US, where a sister organisation known as ‘Statesman’ operates, bringing in a series of new characters played by the likes of Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum and Halle Berry. For the most part I felt this tie in was wasted, with both Bridges and Tatum underused (perhaps there’s a view to more involvement if a third film is made), and Pedro Pascal’s character having an inconsistent character arc that feels designed purely to service the plot. The central trio are still great fun, and when I say trio, I’m including Colin Firth’s deceased character from the first film (the trailers spoiled this for everyone). It’s a major misstep that is badly explained away with a clunky piece of exposition, and whilst more Colin Firth is generally a good thing, his return removes the sense of jeopardy surrounding the main characters and I felt it was a really poor direction to take the story in.
The pacing is a little off and I felt Julianne Moore’s villain was a disappointment when compared with Samuel L. Jackson’s from the first film, and the many action sequences felt over stylised with a frenetic use of editing (the opening section is particularly bad for this), albeit the segment in the ski lift is pretty cool. I guess the main thing is that everything just seems a little off from the elements that made the original good, with the writing a little less sharp and the material lacking some edge. I did like the appearance of Elton John as himself, although the old adage ‘less is more’ would have made his role funnier and more impactful.
‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ isn’t a bad film, but it’s disappointing given the high bar the original film set. I’m still keen for a third film in the series, and hopefully the creators can work through the elements that didn’t work here and make a return to the tone of the original.
Directed By: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Elton John, Pedro Pascal, Edward Holcroft, Hanna Alstrom, Poppy Delevingne, Bruce Greenwood, Emily Watson, Sophie Cookson and Michael Gambon