The original “Kingsman: The Secret Service” was surprise a hit with audiences and critics alike: garnering positive reviews, raking in over $400 million worldwide, and becoming a cult favorite. With it’s creative action sequences and cartoonish jabs at James Bond serotypes, it was a fun breath of fresh air from the stale action flicks we were getting in the early 2010’s.
Three years later Matthew Vaughn has returned as director/writer of the sequel, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” With expectations set high from the original, it’s disappointing that this continuation lacks focus, failing to create an exciting future for the franchise.
Set one year after the first film, “The Golden Circle” sees Kingsman being destroyed as Eggsy and Merlin, our protagonists from the first film, regroup to team-up with their cousin organization, Statesman. The two must utilize the tools from the American based spy agency to stop Poppy, a drug cartel leader obsessed with 1950’s Americana and having her talents as a businesswoman recognized worldwide.
“The Golden Circle” begins with a fun and impressive car chase reminiscent of the action scenes from the first film. In general, the set pieces do a good job at capturing the comic book panel style of the fight scenes, where small movements are given individual focus in the middle of the fight.
Yet, the set pieces themselves fall flat overall. While the opening chase and a shootout near the end are fun, nothing ever tops the church massacre or final battle of the original film. There are no moments or sequences that act as the selling point, the one that audiences will be talking about for years to come.
Herein lies the sequel’s major issue: it never tries to outdo the first “Kingsman.” There are constant references to the first film, as if the writers are poking you with a stick, asking if you remember how cool the original was.
The problem with this technique is that we are never given a reason to start liking this new movie. Instead of bringing its own creative and fun ideas to the table, “The Golden Circle” chooses to play on the audience’s’ love of “The Secret Service” to make them think they like this one.
This truly is a shame since there are many interesting concepts that are never fully fleshed out. The actors do a great job, with Taron Egerton remaining charming as an experienced Eggsy, and Mark Strong remaining cool as tech specialist Merlin. Julianne Moore is also fun to watch as Poppy, exuding obnoxious nostalgia in hilarious ways.
The Statesman are disappointing on two fronts: A talented cast that are never given anything to do acting as an organization that we never get to explore or understand.
One of the reasons we don’t get more time with the Statesmen is because too much time is taken up by an obnoxious amount of subplots. There are so many vapid and unnecessary relationships and developments that bog down the running time, to the point where the middle of the film feels like it’ll never end. It’s a long stretch of chuckle-worthy jokes and few entertaining moments.
Despite these issues, it’s difficult for me to say I disliked “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” It’s a flawed but fine film, one that has entertaining moments worth seeing in theaters if you’re a fan of the original. I just hope Vaughn and company can find a compelling reason to make a third, because there is potential in “Kingsman” that has yet to be fully used.
Samuel Goodrich, Staff Writer