Kingsman: The Golden Circle
One of my good friends once said, “The best Bond movie is Kingsman: The Secret Service,” Kick-Ass director Matthew Vaughn’s spy-comedy thriller and surprise hit of 2014. The slightly-satirical love letter to Britain played off on classic spy and Bond movie tropes while delivering on an awesome, wholly entertaining story that felt surprisingly fresh compared to every other action movie also playing in theaters.
Three years later, Vaughn prepares to bring audiences back into a world of more convoluted and cheeky British gadgets and an intense, modern spy environment through Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The much-anticipated sequel follows Eggsy and the rest of the members of Kingsman to the United States, where they pair up with their “American cousins,” the Statesmen, to stop drug lord Poppy Adams from wiping out millions of the population and to save the world. Again.
In Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Vaughn delivers pretty much more of everything: more action, more humor, and more of the characters that we know and love. Like the church scene from The Secret Service, all of the action sequences are sleek, calculated, and flawlessly intense. Each scene helps set up the thrilling, comical tone of this movie right out of the gate and further build up on the fun and the heart of the movie that Vaughn has built on since the first installment. In fact, one of the best things about Kingsman: The Golden Circle was this structure and canon that the franchise has built for itself. Without giving too much away, Vaughn makes the most of what he has created, making The Golden Circle fit perfectly into its pre-established world. The connectivity between the two films helped The Golden Circle truly feel like a film for the fans, which only served to enrich the experience.
The film had a surprisingly bigger message and a much clearer intention than its predecessor. While The Secret Service seemed to sharpen its focus towards spoofing every Bond cliché imaginable, The Golden Circle aimed to use its platform to spread a message about human decency and character through spoof. While it felt shoved-in due to the obvious, overt Trump characterization, Vaughn’s message and meaning behind everything felt surprisingly tender in a stylized, high-stakes, slightly raunchy spy movie.
Taron Egerton steals the show once again as young Kingsman agent Eggsy, a good-hearted man who now has more to lose in The Golden Circle. While his character is a lot less of a comedic relief this time around, Egerton shows off his range by making Eggsy a bright-eyed young man who’s still learning a lot about the world around him. Colin Firth’s triumphant return as Eggsy’s mentor Harry Hart was great to see, but still felt very phoned in. Arguably, bringing him back seems like a spoof-y gesture in it of itself to make, but led to a few more plot holes than the movie needed. Newer characters such as Julianne Moore’s villain Poppy Adams and Pedro Pascal’s Statesman antihero agent Whiskey were standouts, but for the most part the film doesn’t use the full potential of its other talented actors.
While Kingsman: The Golden Circle is truly a film for Kingsman fans, the movie doesn’t try to rein in the fun that it’s having or the message that it’s trying to promote. It’s a shamelessly fun action movie that lacks a little bit of the refinement of its predecessor to tie itself into its new American edge. Kingsman: The Secret Service was the kind of movie that you either loved or hated, and there was really no in-between. Kingsman: The Golden Circle delivers a pretty similar experience, but is overall still a mindlessly fun movie perfect for downtime in the fall.