Kingsman: The Golden Circle - Review
Matthew Vaughn has made some incredibly fun films. Between X-Men: First Class, Kick-Ass, and the first Kingsman movie, he knows how to craft fun, coherent, albeit wacky narratives than keep audiences entertained. So with Kingsman: The Golden Circle being released it was of note on my calendar of my movies for the year. It definitely had the wackiness of the first (but in overdrive) and that was about it. Continue reading to see more of my thoughts. Minor spoilers will follow.
The Kingsman franchise was always a bit over the top, campy, and fantastical but this brought it to a whole other level. Think of the jump from Fast Five which was entertaining and a bit ridiculous to Furious Seven when they drove their cars out of an airplane. That is about the same here, except in the case of Fast and Furious, they had a movie in between (Fast 6) to bridge the gap. The Golden Circle took a bigger leap.
There are ton of fun set pieces in this, including a perfectly entertaining opening car chase sequence. But the first film did them so well, that the entire time you are watching this one you are waiting for this film's equivalent "The Church Fight" which doesn't really ever arrive.
The story isn't anymore convoluted than the first one, and this one doesn't have people's heads turning into fireworks. But it does bring people back from the dead, as we have seen from the previews, with sort of a forced retcon.
The problem with that, is the problem the Marvel Cinematic Universe has. If you make death a cheap trick once, no one will ever believe it again. They brought Harry (Colin Firth) back for the sequel. So going in automatically, you are instantly conditioned to not believe a single death that may or may not happen on screen anymore. In something as vast as the Marvel Cinematic Universe that involves aliens and Gods, it is a bit more forgivable. But in a small more intimate Kingsman universe, it is a glaring event that is always in the back of your mind, and that is unfortunate.
This time around, we are introduced to the American equivalent of The Kingsman - The Statesman. The Statesman are comprised of a star-studded cast including Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum and Halle Berry, who are all severely underused. The Statesman that gets the most screen time is the least famous of the bunch - Pedro Pascal. He is a prolific television actor (Narcos, The Mentalist, Game of Thrones) and was great in this, but it felt like The Statesman cast were set up more for a possible spinoff down the road than to be of any use in this movie.
It is a bit cliche to say a film has sequelitis but that is exactly what this has. It takes what people reacted to strongly in the first one, and put it front and center here regardless of how it impacts the overall story. There is a call back to a great scene in the original film, that then gets flipped on its head here and it works, but through the rest of the movie it feels like something is missing.
There is a wonderful cameo in the movie that marketing has pretty much kept secret. The more time that passes, the less likely you are to not know who it is, but it is a fun role for this person, and they steal every scene they are in.
Julianne Moore is the villain in this one, and she does a perfectly adequate job in the role she was given. Female villains are a Hollywood trend that I hope stays around for a long time, but they need to not be used as red herrings or pseudo-villains. It looked like Moore was having a ton of fun in what she was doing, but it would have been nice to see her get in on some of the action instead of be behind a desk (or a counter) the entire movie. Show us why she has this empire, and why so many respect and fear her.
The new gadgets are cool, some more believable within that world than others, and some are just to make the story easier to tell. There are a lot of jokes and moments that rely heavily on the first one and that's okay. It is done in a way where you can still understand this movie if you haven't seen the first one but you'll find a few more moments within the film if you have.
While The Golden Circle is visually spectacular with big action set pieces, and fun character evolution, there is something left to be desired. It didn't land with me like the first one did, I was waiting for that "eureka" moment and it never hit. It is not a bad movie, but it certainly has diminishing returns. While all the elements for success where there and visible on screen, it seems the focus of each one was off.
Out of all of the movies I have seen this year, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is middle of the road. It is not one of the best, but is certainly not one of the worst ones either. If you like big fun action sequences and that is all you are looking for, you will have a good time watching this. Who knows, maybe all of the work Kingsman: The Golden Circle did to set up spinoffs and sequels (whether intentionally or not) will pay off in the future.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is everywhere in theaters now.