2014 had a lot of surprises in the blockbuster cannon. Guardians of the Galaxy, John Wick, Edge of Tomorrow and Kingsman.
Half of those have a sequel that doesn’t so much better its predecessor but is at least sub-par. It was Harry Hart who said “true nobility lies in being superior to one’s former self” and so keeping that in mind, one might think this sequel would be superior to its former self, right?
Kingsman: The Secret Service was fresh, fun and self-referential. Streamlined to a degree that even with its farfetched theatrical plot, Matthew Vaughn directed with such flair that many applauded it for its satirical homage to spy movie fare as well as being subversive of those tropes.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle however is bloated, overly long and kind of disorientating at times. With an ensemble cast to boast about and still revelling in its ridiculousness, Vaughn couldn’t really replicate the original’s refreshing appeal. Instead we’re given action sequences that although frenetic and furious, seem video game like to a point of seeming just too wacky even when it owns the fact that’s downright crazy, it’s campier than anything.
There’s more of pretty much everything here: more gadgets that would make James Bond’s Q blush, more crude humour that’ll rattle some and have others laughing cheekily and more eccentric, colourful characters that stretches the whole thing further than what it deserves.
Eggsy (Taron Egerton) has become the new Galahad essentially. He’s more weary, more suave but also more responsible. The presence of his mentor Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is sorely missed and honours him by continuing the tradition while learning what it truly means to be a gentleman. A seemingly routine assignment he’s on eventually leads to the destruction of the Kingsman headquarters. They now must follow the ‘Doomsday protocol’ that finds our noble agents heading stateside to meet their Kentucky counterparts.
Meanwhile a mysterious but nefarious organisation known as The Golden Circle is rearing its head and it’s up to both intelligence agencies to thwart their activities while also acknowledging each other’s cultures to perhaps combine as one.
Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) while trying to get to grips with these drastic circumstances are surprised to learn of an old friend kicking about. YES, HARRY’S BACK!!! (It appears that 20th Century Fox didn’t trust enough in the marketing campaign to have the return of Harry kept secret) and he now with retrograde amnesia. This now presents a new struggle for Eggsy as he now has to try and jog his mentor’s memory and get Harry to fight alongside him.
I wasn’t pumped for The Golden Circle and I had my doubts as to how much it would succeed the original but with the use of Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ in the first trailer I was enlightened as to how much class and more mature it could be. There’s more of what we know was in the original but to a more scattered brained effect.
Much of the CGI feels artificial with some obvious green screen, sometimes when you notice it’s CGI it can take you out of the experience a bit. There’s pieces in the plot that feels too convenient for the sake of just ignoring some logistics and of course not taking itself too seriously.
The cast seems to be having a lot of fun filled with a whopping 5 Oscar winners. Julianne Moore’s Poppy hisses, exudes superficial charm and doesn’t mince words (that’s something of a clue as to how she dispatches those she has a distaste for). Moore is having a ball but for what she’s given, however the character is very stock. She doesn’t feel formidable at all.
Sam Jackson’s Valentine is still the villain to beat in this franchise although Vaughn has expressed a desire to cast Dwayne Johnson as the next antagonist in the 3rd chapter so that’ll be interesting I’m sure
Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges are gleeful and endearing with what little time they’re given and Pedro Pascal looks like he came from a 1970’s show like Starsky and Hutch but has charm and sophistication to spare.
Bruce Greenwood’s unnamed president I found to be the most enjoyable. He was goofy and wildly irresponsible that may or may not be poking fun at the current president, the movie has a carefree edge so who knows. He was impotently funny.
There’s a cameo by Elton John, although it felt like it at first that outstays its welcome after about 5 minutes. It’s a running gag that gets repetitive and depending on your affinity of their persona will depend on how long you’re willing to go along with it.
The use of music feels uninspired and there’s Vaughn’s twisted sense of humour in a scene that’s reminiscent of the closing scene in the original that I found perverse and unpleasant. Vaughn’s sense of violence and high octane energy is still prevalent here and for many that may carry them over the surprising 141 min run time (the original cut was 80 mins longer, god could you imagine?).
This is 2017’s most absurd but amongst the more generic blockbusters and while there were bursts of fun, it was all in all disappointing. This was dumber, louder, longer, unearned and less inspired. Vaughn is open to another sequel (which by the end of The Golden Circle is pretty apparent) and spin offs, possibly a Statesmen spinoff? This was an anticipated sequel so box office wise it’ll do fairly well, I’m just hoping that next lot will be more dialled down and have some surprises for us.