Kingsman: The Golden Circle is weighed down by a bloated narrative and minimal action sequences.
The film picks up with Eggsy (Taron Egerton) stepping into the role as the lead agent of the Kingsman. In the first ten minutes of the movie, Eggsy is tracked down by a rejected candidate for the program which results in a fantastic high-speed car chase. While in the end, we are left to believe Eggsy eliminated his adversary, it appears that the car chase was part of a more elaborate scheme to track the secret hideout of Britan’s most advanced spy service. An organization lead by a drug kingpin fixated on the 1950’s (played by Julianne Moore) is deadset on killing everyone in the organization so they can go forward with their plan of blackmailing the government into legalizing the drug trade. The Kingsmen’s American counterpart (The Statesmen) are called on to help after missile strikes level all of their hideouts destroying their resources and available agents. Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, and Pablo Pascal all play key roles in the Statesmen organization. However, even the introduction of the key new characters takes a back seat when Eggsy realizes that his mentor (Harry, played by Colin Firth) may not have died when he was shot in the head at the end of the first film.
Egerton was born to play the role of a secret agent. He has the looks, charm, and can pull off the elaborate action sequences with ease. One of the primary reason why the original Kingsmen worked so well is his performance, and history repeats itself in Kingsmen: The Golden Circle.
When Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn were tasked with crafting the sequel to Kingsmen, their first job was developing a semi-plausible way to bring back Harry Hart. His character is critical to the success of the sequel. Egerton brings looks and youthful exuberance to the role while Firth adds just a dash of charm and kick-ass gadgets which makes the film appear to be at least somewhat real.
George Richmond’s cinematography was outstanding. The camera shots were fluid, lengthy, and jostled as the intensity grew in their action sequences. While the opening car chase was fantastic, it doesn’t come close to the first film’s sequence in the church.
Vaughn is able to get the most out of this star-laden cast. While the movie certainly has issues, the performance of it’s cast certainly isn’t one of them.
What Didn’t Work
Way too much time is dedicated to resurrecting Firth’s character. What was baffling to me was there’s this fantastic universe that is introduced by the addition of Bridges, Berry, Pascal, and Tatum which normally would be plenty for any film to build a story around. However, they spend so much time setting up the Kingsmen’s American counterpart “The Statesmen” that the focus is away from what made the original film great. Less backstory and more blood, action, and gadgets. No one goes to a spy movie hoping for a thought-provoking narrative.
Juliane Moore is cast as this sweet drug lord who is a bit off her rocker but a delight to people who are loyal. She doesn’t pull off the villain the way it could have been. Perhaps the film needed someone who has experience as the villain (Jessica Chastain?). I’m sure she enjoyed being part of what looked like a fun shoot but is woefully miscast in this film.
While I understand it’s all the rage these days to expand a cinematic universe, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a film that should never have been greenlit. If Vaughn and Goldman were ever going to attempt a sequel that matches the standard set by the original, they should have gone back and looked at what made the first film special. The first film has a tight narrative that is centered on an origin story. The action sequences in the movie were insane. The villain was strong and at any moment could steal the scenes he was in with Firth and Eggerton. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is bland by comparison and has too much of a storyline with few action sequences. If anyone loved the first film, then check it out and make your own judgment. Just remember to temper those expectations.