“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” proves to be a fun ride as it brings back the hyper-stylized action and beloved characters of its predecessor, but it ultimately suffers from its poorly fleshed out villain. The movies are loosely based on the comic book series, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” from creators Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons. The comic book is published by Icon Comics as part of the Millarverse.
The first film, “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” also from writer and director Matthew Vaughn, introduced audiences to the world of Kingsman, “an independent, international intelligence agency operating at the highest level of discretion” whose ultimate goal is to keep the world safe. Now, the street-wise turned suave super-spy Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is rushed back into action when the various Kingsman’s headquarters are destroyed by the new film’s villain, Poppy (Julianne Moore) who heads the evil empire The Golden Circle.
After following the Kingsman’s doomsday protocol, Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong), discover an allied spy organization in the US, the Statesman. This fellow organization, whose agents dress in classic cowboy attire, including electric lassos and cowboy hat med-kits, operate under the guise of a successful liquor business that dates back to the day both organizations were founded. While the Kingsman agents are named after the Knights of the Round Table, the Statesman Agents are named after various beverages. Their team is made up of, Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), Tequila (Channing Tatum), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Champagne “Champ” (Jeff Bridges). Tequilla and Ginger Ale re-introduce the two Kingsman to Harry, AKA Agent Gallahad (Colin Firth) who, after being presumed kill in action during the first film, was saved by the Statesman.
Following a quick explanation of the fancy science gel that was used to plug the bullet hole left in Harry’s brain – you’ve got to love movie science – they learn he is suffering from amnesia and doesn’t remember any of his life with the Kingsman and need to respark his memory. This plot thread paves way to an action sequence echoing the first movies’ famous bar fight scene. But, unable to fully access his old skill set, or see out of both eyes, Harry goes down quickly, allowing for Vaughn to introduce some crafty lasso action from Agent Whiskey.
Vaughn was praised for the heavily stylized action he brought to “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and there’s no letting up this time around. The film opens with a high-speed car chase highlighted by Prince and The Revolution’s “Let’s Go Crazy,” and has a final act fight featuring Sir Elton John himself in an extended cameo. Vaughn acknowledges the artificiality of his action sequences. Through heavy editing these sequences come out appearing like one unbroken take where the characters can seemingly fly through the air, punching, kicking, and shooting without having to worry about the laws of physics.
The movie tries, and fails, to meet the stakes or excitement of the first installment as Poppy’s world-wide drug monopoly, The Golden Circle, puts its dastardly plan into action. She lives in the Cambodian jungle in a small compound designed to look like the main street of a 1950’s neighborhood, feeding her obsession with this time period. Poppy has poisoned the world’s entire recreational drug supply, infecting millions of citizens who use drugs for any and all reasons. Unless the President agrees to legalize the drug trade she will prevent the antidote from being spread, killing the millions affected around the globe.
While Poppy proves to be a big thinker, and is menacing to her employees as she has them shove each other into a meat grinder, she isn’t given much of a chance to hold her own against our heroes. All-in-all “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” manages to hit some of the same buttons as the first, but is bogged down but a villain with little thought behind her.
“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” 3 ½ out of 5.