Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Taron Egerton (Eggsy), Mark Strong (Merlin), Colin Firth (Harry Hart), Julianne Moore (Poppy) and Elton John
Release Date: 20th September 2017
In 2014, we were treated to the magnificent fun that was, Kingsman: The Secret Service. Based on the comic by Mark Millar, and Dave Gibbons. Director Matthew Vaughn, brought us an over the top action comedy, of the likes that we haven’t seen since Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. Full to the brim with over the top violence, extremely likable characters, and a self-aware style that one the hearts of viewers. With the announcement of a sequel, fans were eager to revisit the world of the Kingsman, and see what adventures were next for Galahad, Lancelot, and Merlin. With the release of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, fans have just one question. Does it live up to the original?
In short, no. But not for lack of trying.
Picking up some time after the first film. Eggsy continues as Agent Galahad of the Kingsman. Living with his girlfriend, and trying to impress her parents, he comes back to find the Kingsman destroyed, the shop devastated, and everything he knows in ruins. Attacked by assailants, and alongside Merlin, they find themselves traveling to Kentucky, USA. Seeking out The Statesman, their American cousins. When a plot is revealed by reclusive megalomaniac to kill drug users worldwide, the Statesman and Kingsman team up to save people they care for, and their own interests.
The success of The Secret Service, was unprecedent. A perfect mix of action, comedy, characters and violence. It’s hard to pin down what it was that made us sit up and pay attention. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why The Golden Circle takes a very safe route with its plot. Banking heavily on the most memorable scenes of the original, and that our love for Eggsy, Roxy and Merlin would see the audience through. Add on the inclusion of a fan favourite, thought dead, that was sadly spoiled by marketing. A fact that even the director, Matthew Vaughn, takes great issue with. The Golden Circle comes off as a good knock off of the original. Not as good, but a decent effort at replicating, not continuing. Something that is hard to dismiss when watching the two, one after the other.
It’s hard to top the plot and villain of the original film, though not impossible. But upon meeting, or rather ‘meat-ing’, Julianne Moore’s Poppy, we hope for someone as interesting as Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine. Instead, we find an almost generic psychopath, with a touch of Martha Stewart thrown in. While Julianne Moore is a fantastic actress in her own right, and she plays her role well, the character doesn’t live up to what we expect from a Kingsman sequel.
In The Golden Circle, death means little. It comes quick and early to those we care for, only to be disregarded by the half way point, with the introduction of the Statesman, and the return of Harry Hart. While both are valid plot points, having both together in the same film cheapens the experience.
With the introduction of The Statesman, we get a whole new crop of characters set to help Eggsy. Heavily publicised was the addition to Channing Tatum to the cast as Agent Tequila. While Tatum’s appeal may split with audience, given his usual demographic. You will be pleased to know that his overall appearance is brief, while still getting in a dose of fan service for those anxious to see him.
While the film carries on with a similar tone of humour, it does little to top the first. Attempting to top the shock and humour of the original’s final pre-credits scene, with an honestly uncomfortable, almost sex scene. The violence and action scenes continue to amaze; however, they feel strung together. Like your wishing the plot would just hurry up and get to the next great fight scene. Certainly memorable, but far from the draw of the original.
While certainly not a bad film, it’s hard for it to stand with the original. Enjoyable, fun and action packed, with plenty of fan service. But falls short of its older brother.