Kingsman – The Golden Circle review

Kingsman – The Golden Circle is a sequel to the 2014 Kingsman movie starring Colin Firth, Taron Egerton and Samuel L. Jackson. One of the last big summer releases, we attended a screening and here are our thoughts.

I have to admit I was a little surprised when I heard the initial announcement for Kingsman – The Golden Circle. Although the original movie did fine commercially and was fairly well received, it’s not a movie I remember a whole lot of details about. I suppose that in three years I’ll say the same about The Golden Circle, even though I was quite entertained while watching it.

Maybe part of that lies in the comic book origins of the franchise. It’s a British secret service movie just like the James Bond movies are, but way more over the top. This holds true for the (cinematography of the) action scenes, as well as the characters and the gadgets that are being used.

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In The Golden Circle, a super villain called Poppy Adams (played by Julianne Moore) takes out most of the Kingsmen before setting her grand plan in motion – to have all drug trade legalized. She aims to achieve this by keeping a large portion of the world’s population hostage through her product, which she has infused with a deadly supplement to which only she has the antidote. Moore’s poppy is fascinated with fifties culture and has built herself a fifties-themed hideaway in the middle of the Cambodian jungle – she also dresses the part, and mixed psychotic behavior with a Stepford Wives-like charm.

Meanwhile, the surviving Kingmen (Egerton’s Eggsy and Mark Strong’s Merlin) link up with their American counterparts, the Statesmen – whose liquor business is their front. Working for the Statesmen are characters brought to life by Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry and Pedro Pascal – but they’re also keeping Colin Firth’s character trapped inside their facility. Brought back to life after meeting with certain death in the first movie, Firth suffers from amnesia and has gotten a little rusty with his skills once he regains his identity.

Before giving too much of the plot away, I do want to also mention Elton John’s role in the movie – starring as himself, kidnapped by Poppy Adams for her own amusement. In line with the comic book style of the movie, Elton John’s portrayal is unfortunately rather one-dimensional – mostly a mix of uncharacteristic profanities and his usual flamboyancy. It’s entertaining, but his musical talents are underused.

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Similar things could be said about some of the supporting crew. Halle Berry and Jeff Bridges largely phone in their roles, and Channing Tatum doesn’t fare much better after a strong introductory scene. Luckily, Egerton, Strong and Firth’s performances have more depth to them and they share the majority of the screen time between the three of them.

At almost two and a half hours, Kingsman – The Golden Circle is rather long and two sub-plots feel too much like padding. One is the love story between Egerton and his princess, the other is the (somewhat connected) plotline where Egerton travels to the Glastonbury music festival. Compared to the visual spectacle that is the movie’s opening sequence, these sections feel too drawn out.

Nevertheless, Kingsman – The Golden Circle is a fun comic book-like take on the secret service theme. The opening sequence is lengthy and one of the best I’ve seen in quite a while, and the wacky cast and situations keep things from ever getting boring. It’s an entertaining movie and hopefully the inevitable sequel will keep the momentum and energy flowing at a more constant level.

Score: 7.3/10

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