Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Written by: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Based on the comic book by: Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons
So, this review is a little late, but I think I have a good reason for that. I actually had to watch this movie twice before I finished writing this because I wanted to be fair. The first time I watched it I did not like it. In fact, I hated it and I had written a pretty scathing review. It might have been that I was tired, fighting off a headache, or maybe my expectations were just too high the first time I was in the theater, but it wasn’t pretty. The second time I saw this film I went with a friend. We got a giant bucket of popcorn and we were having fun. I was able to enjoy so much more than I previously had. So, I rewrote some of the review below and I was a little less hard on it than I had been.
Back when Kingsman: The Secret Service first came out, I had instantly fallen in love with it. The world was fun and didn’t take itself too seriously. I loved all of the characters from Harry (Colin Firth), to Merlin (Mark Strong) and especially Eggsy (Taron Egerton). Not to mention, has there been a more iconic scene then the Freebird church scene? It’s rivaled only by the firework head explosion scene at the end.
This is all to say, I was really excited for Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
Quick Plot Summary:
It’s about a year after the events of Kingsman: The Secret Service. Eggsy is now a full member of the Kingsman agency and he’s living in Harry’s home with his girlfriend Princess Tilde (you’ll remember her as the kidnapped Princess from the first film). Things are going really well for Eggsy. So, of course something bad is just around the corner.
From here on out, there will be minor spoilers. Nothing too major but still kind of spoiler-y.
Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) is the most successful businesswoman in the world, that no one has ever heard of because she sells drugs. Poppy needs the world to know who she is and decides to hold several of the world’s citizen’s hostage. To make sure her plan suceeds, she destroys the Kingsman. Little does she know (I mean the Kingsman didn’t know either), but there’s another secret organization. Enter the Statesman. Instead of going in to the tailor business the Statesman opened up a whiskey distillery (so of course all of their code names are alcoholic beverages).
In the opening scene we get a sense that this time Eggsy is going to be thoroughly tested. He is going to need to be more than what he was in the first film. His usual tricks and gadgets aren’t going to cut it as he is going to need to be smarter, faster and stronger.
The thing I love most about movies and television shows are the characters. Which is why I am constantly getting sucked into franchises because I love seeing my favorite characters back over and over again. As I mentioned earlier, I have a real fondness for Eggsy (if I ever have a son he may or may not be named Eggsy). You could have given me an entire film of just Eggsy, Merlin and Roxy sitting around debriefing unseen missions and I would have been fine with that… but that’s not the movie we got.
The highlight of the film for me was definitely Poppy Adams. Her entire 50’s nostalgia aesthetic mixed with robotic technology was really fun. Don’t even get me started on her killer robot dogs named Benny and Jet. Fantastic. You’d also think the joke of the random kidnapping of Elton John would wear thin the longer the film went on… but it really didn’t. I laughed every time.
The Statesman were a really fun addition to the world. I would have loved to see more of them actually. I was enamored by the lasso and initially with Pedro Pascal’s character of Agent Whiskey. It was just really great to see them interact with that Kingsman and just how different but the same each of the organizations were. I feel like that was a lost opportunity to really expand on the world. I did not get to see nearly enough of the Statesman (I mean I could argue I never got to see enough of the Kingsman before they were gone too… but that’s an entirely other issue).
Taron Egerton as Eggsy will always be perfect casting. I hope so much for Taron’s future because he has that indescribable leading man aspect to him. As seen by his past projects he is capable of taking on a wide variety of roles. I mean, say what you will about Eddie the Eagle, but I think it showed his range and physicality. I mean, he didn’t even look like himself in that movie. I look forward to seeing him in more things and I really hope that his Robin Hood and Elton John projects are successes because I think he’s going to be great in both of them.
I wanted to love The Golden Circle so much. I wanted it to be as fun and as exciting and as unexpected as the first one, but it took a second viewing before I had any fun. It was missing whatever it was that had made the first one feel so fresh. It was just more of the same. Which was not the movie I wanted it to be or the movie I think it needed to be. I had hoped that with the addition of the Statesman we would get a chance to explore an entirely different aspect of this world. That didn’t really happen. The Statesman were incredibly under-utilized. It had its moments (some of them heartbreaking), but a lot of it just kind of fell flat for me.
There was also a kind of a bait and switch. Channing Tatum is not in this film as much as the trailer would have you believe. He’s in the beginning and he’s in the end. The rest of it, he’s out of commission. I have not been so annoyed with a bait and switch since that I time I sat through Battleship and realized that I had been tricked with promises of Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgård. If Channing Tatum had been written out completely of the film, nothing would have changed at all.
Personally, I felt like the writers and the producers misunderstood what made audiences love the first film. What would arguably be the weakest “jokes” from the first movie ended up being referenced multiple times throughout the sequel. They gave us of crude jokes and sexist comedy at the expense of women, and that did not sit well with me. It was just so unnecessary. You could make a drinking game out of how many times a woman was called a bitch or how many jokes were made at the expense of women. Actually, I take that back you’d die of alcohol poisoning. I found the entire scene concerning the tracking device to be wholly unfunny.
In the end, all I can say is… I still love the first film, but I would have been okay if they never had made a sequel. Of course, if they decide to make it a trilogy you can bet that I’ll still be in the theater waiting to get my hopes up. What can I say? Once I get hooked on franchise they pretty much have me for life.