The newest Kingsman adventure follows the typical trajectory of many sequels in that it decides to blow up the scale of its predecessor to massive proportions. “Go Big Or Go Home” as they say — and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” does go big, but it wasn’t long into this films running time that I was wondering when I’d be able to go home. Turns out “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” has also followed the trajectory of many underwhelming sequels in that it’s traded in fun and wit for simply a larger scale for its narrative. At least it’s able to contribute to 2017’s lovely trend of John Denver songs popping up across various pieces of cinema (“Logan Lucky,” “Okja” and “Free Fire” are among the other 2017 titles to make use of this man’s music.)
The Kingsman organization is under attack. Someone highly powerful has sent missiles targeting Kingsman agents and it’s only by a stroke of luck that Eggsy (Taron Edgerton) was able to survive. It now falls to him and Merlin (Mark Strong) to find out who is behind this assault, an undertaking that takes them directly to their American counterparts, The Statesman. Here, agents like Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) work for Champagne (Jeff Bridges) in taking down bad guys and they’re more than happy to help Eggsy and Merlin find out who exactly was behind the attempt to wipe Kingsman from the face of the Earth.
Turns out, the person behind such an event was none other than reclusive drug kingpin Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore). She’s got a whole army of loyal guards and a plan to bring the world to its knees. Who can stop her? Why the Kingsman, of course! It’s here that the plot of “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” gets weird by proxy of it being too overstuffed, as there is also the issue of having to deal with the damaged mental state of the recently resurrected Harry Hart (Colin Firth). Dude can’t even remember who he is and they’ve gotta help him out with that ailment that runs entirely separate from the impending apocalypse Poppy Adams is planning.
That’s just one story detail here that feels either undercooked or not properly integrated into the larger plot. The Statesman themselves also don’t get much to do, with Tequila, after a super fun introduction scene, being sidelined for the vast majority of the movie and Halle Berry as Ginger being stuck in a lab for the entirety of her running time. Couldn’t they do something fun with these characters and take advantage of the fact that there are a bunch of honkey-tonk Kingsman running around in this universe? Apparently not, though at least Pedro Pascal gets loads of screentime as the sole prominent Statesman in a performance that has Pascal showing off so much charm and charisma (he can pull off the convincing action movie lead persona like nobody’s business) that I’m left fervently hoping he gets some juicy leading man parts ASAP.
Another new character that fails to make much of a mark is Julianne Moore’s baddie whose a collection of a bunch of quirky traits that really don’t make much sense, or even just make some goofy fun, when paired together. For instance, she’s obsessed with 1950’s culture, which could be cool, but then why does she also have high-tech robot dogs? This is an obvious attempt to replicate the success of Samuel L. Jackson’s incredibly fun baddie from the first Kingsman that goes absolutely nowhere and wastes Julianne Moore in the process. While all but one of the new characters get wasted, the returning characters don’t fare much better, with Harry Hart’s plotline being a rote rehash of typical amnesia storylines and Eggy’s romantic troubles (he’s now in a committed relationship with the Swedish princess from the end of the first film) being impossible to get emotionally invested in, I can’t believe writers Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman expected the audience to take that particular plot detail seriously.
Thankfully, the various actors assigned for these characters continue to turn in good work, including Taron Edgerton whose still leaving quite the impression as Eggsy, while Mark Strong and Colin Firth are loads of fun in their elder Kingsman personnel roles. Meanwhile, the action sequences in Kingsman: The Golden Circle actually fare decently overall, which is at least a point in the movie’s favor. An opening car chase that makes great use of Eggsy fighting a dude with a robot arm is exciting while a climactic “storm the castle” sequence with Eggsy and Harry playing against Elton John karate-chopping people is a hoot. However, both scenes do have some visually disorienting moments courtesy of a weird editing trait that constantly tries to clunkily simulate the idea that these incredibly complicated action scenes are shot in a single take.
There’s some real spotty editing throughout, which paired up with some more lackluster production design (especially in regards to coming up with some distinctive visual elements for the Statesman’s lair) makes “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” an underwhelming experience on some key visual points as well. It’s truly disappointing Matthew Vaughn and co. couldn’t come up with a more satisfying expansion of the world of Kingsman as there are performances and scenes in “The Golden Circle” that show that this could have been quite the fun movie. But to quote Eggsy from the first Kingsman…”This ain’t that kind of movie bruv”.
Douglas Laman is a film critic,who, when not watching movies, attends Collin College, hangs out with friends and… watches movies. For more of his work and ramblings, visit his website at www.landofthenerds.blogspot.com