That’s when Kingsman: The Secret Service came along and took the world by storm. It was the perfect throwback to the ridiculous spy movies of old, with lethal gadgets disguised in umbrellas and a complete throwaway of modern trends. The film was crude, gruesome and unrelenting in nature, as well as being absolutely hysterical. At the worldwide box office, it clocked in over $400,000,000, making it a massive success. A sequel was inevitable. Now it’s here. While no longer based on the six issue comic book mini-series, Kingsman: The Golden Circle picks up where we last left off, exploring the further adventures of the heroes we’ve come to know and love.
It’s bigger, louder and more devastating than the first, even less restricted and more controversial than ever (a certain sex scene has already got people talking). As a fan of the first, I was beyond ready for the follow-up, and it certainly delivers. Gone is the magic and initial charm of the first installment, replacing a lot of the heart for larger stunts and better jokes, but director Mathew Vaughn’s signature style and frivolous sense of humour is better than ever, even if the CGI takes somewhat of a noticeable downgrade. Still, his sandbox is expanded. The world is bigger. Yet he, along with co-writer Jane Goldman, still keep it firmly grounded within the universe at hand. What happens in Kingsman stays in Kingsman.
Egerton and Firth’s roles are reversed in a strange way, and without delving into the actual spoilers behind his reincarnation, I wasn’t a fan of what went down. A lot of screen time is dedicated to explaining why he’s alive as we spend time reintroducing him to this world, but it’s a tacked on addition with very little impact on the overall plot, save for one plot twist that doesn’t get much justification and undermines Julianne Moore’s character significantly. Moore herself gives a fantastic and eccentric performance, but her character weavers in the shadow of the first film’s villains. She, and everything else in this film, feels like a b-grade version of what we’ve already seen. A lot of the plot is a real missed opportunity to do something great.
On top of that, Kingsman: The Golden Circle falls into the trap that many franchises, including Marvel, DC and Star Trek, have fallen into before. It provides a cure for death. Once this is done, it kills nearly all tension during the sequences to come, because you know that if something bad is really going to happen, the character’s colleagues can just bring them back to life. Granted, the same can’t be said for the rest of the world’s population, who are under threat from Poppy throughout most of the runtime, but for the characters we actually get to know and love, they become invincible warlords who can’t be stopped.
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