Kingsman: The Golden Circle

This movie is one of the few sequels I actually let myself get excited for. Matthew Vaughn is back in the director’s chair and Channing Tatum plays a southern spy/fuckboy. I am so in.

And I wasn’t disappointed. At least…not completely.

This time around, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is a full blown agent. But that means jack shit when a clear oversight on his part leads to the entire Kingsman organization getting hit with missiles. The only survivors? Himself and Merlin (Mark Strong) who activate the doomsday protocol. The doomsday protocol? Find the Statesman, the American version of the Kingsman.

The villain this time around is clear heroin reference Poppy (played by cashing-that-check Julianne Moore) who was behind the destruction of the Kingsman. Her plan? Poison her extensive drug supply (everything from weed to meth) and only supply the antidote when the American president legalizes drugs and gives her full immunity.

We can start with the good. Taron Egerton is still an awesome leading man. And he actually looks young, unlike all these “action” heroes fighting their way into nursing homes. I’m really bummed that he didn’t win the part of young Han Solo but judging by the uncertainty around that production he may have dodged a bullet.

The action is still awesome, and refreshing. Nothing will beat that “Free Bird” scene from the first film, but it is still so nice to see coherent action sequences that you can actually follow from beginning to end. The brutal headshots and quick but deft edits left me awed and entertained yet again. If nothing else, Kingsman is at least fun. The Bond series has all but forgotten what it means to be fun. Kingsman revels in the absurdity.

Those are big, big upsides for me. But there is a lot left to be desired.

The villain is, honestly, boring. Poppy has very little charisma and barely holds a lit bag of dog poo compared to Samuel L. Jackson. Sure, I’m glad they take her down and her plan is pretty evil, but she just doesn’t have the same gravitas. Two separate deaths by meat grinder aren’t going to redeem that. Not even close.

The same goes for all female characters in this one. They quickly off the only marginally helpful woman from the first one, and Eggsy’s girlfriend (the anal princess from the first film) is so dull she might as well not be there. Even though they insist on making the heart of the movie revolve around his relationship with her. Side topic: why do they insist on bringing up that anal joke again and again? It was the worst part of the first film. Let’s keep referencing it for old time’s sake, eh?

You put Channing Tatum in your movie and then quite literally remove him almost immediately after? What the balls is up with that? He’s literally on the poster and, even though I love him, Pedro Pascal gets way more screen time. That’s a crime in a comedy adventure like this one. Especially when Colin Firth (not a spoiler he’s in the trailer), looks like he is contractually obligated to appear in at least 30 minutes of screen time.

So, despite some very disturbing but believable scenarios involving our current US leaders, Golden Circle tries but fails to live up to the standard created by the original. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a heck of a lot of fun though. They’ll just have to be a little more creative on the third time around.

3 out of 4 stars.

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