More of the same mixed bag for Kingsman

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) – Film Review

Kingsman - The Golden Circle Film Poster

Kingsman – The Golden Circle Film Poster

I’m getting a John Denver deju-vu feeling this year – with his songs showing up in so many films this year it’s starting to get ridiculous – and “Country Roads, Take Me Home” is becoming all too familiar to me.

Denver’s songs have now shown up for the sixth time in a film this year. After Free Fire, Alien: Covenant, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul, Okja, and Logan Lucky we now have Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

A pity, then, that the setup of this Kingsman sequel appears to be trading heavily on the kind of nostalgia that some Denver songs trade in as a spy movie action comedy that draws heavily from the Bond playbook while adopting a cgi-heavy style of its own yet still giving off that sense of deja-vu.

Was it really necessary to kill off many of the characters from the first film but find time to bring back a beloved character thought dead from the original Kingsman film though?

Taron Egerton returns as Eggsy, aided by Mark Strong as Merlin, who are the two remaining Kingsmen senior officers after the independent spy-agency was all-but wiped out by the shadowy Golden Circle organisation in an early set-piece.

Fulfilling villain duty this time is Julianne Moore who is clearly having a whale of a time as Golden Circle CEO Poppy Adams, a would-be narcotics kingpin with a liking for 50s memorabilia and a dislike for having to skulk around in classic villain lairs away from civilisation.

The Golden Circle are attempting to hold the world to ransom in a nefarious narcotics plot and Eggsy and Merlin are forced to seek help from their American cousins The Statesmen – staffed by Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, and Jeff Bridges.

Kingsman’s contrived reason to bring Colin Firth back from the dead

Colin Firth’s demise in the first Kingsman appears to have been hand-waved off as merely a flesh-wound that was easy enough to fix but even with a decidedly shaky plot twist to facilitate this, Kingsman just about gets away with it along with a romantic subplot with Eggsy’s love interest which is jeopardised during this film.

With Eggsy’s world turned upside down there follows the usual ridiculous cgi-heavy action with plenty of adult humour but one juvenile scene in particular set in Glastonbury with Poppy Delevingne (Cara’s sister) is a little close to the bone and although it’s in keeping with the original Kingsman film I still thought it was unnecessary and detracted from the fun.

Many of the laughs were generated through sideways giggles at the expletive-laden dialogue and a rather meaty, and hilarious, celebrity cameo which raised the third act finale above a workmanlike ending.

At roughly two and a half hours long there’s always a danger that films like this are overindulging themselves but the pacing is fine, although the sheer number of characters on show sadly means some characters still get short-changed – even in a film as long as this (with rumours of a first cut at over three hours).

There’s very little originality to be had in the spy movie genre these days and Kingsman: The Golden Circle lacks a set piece to match the infamous church scene in the original film, and tries hard to inject pathos into the cgi-heavy affair by ruthlessly killing off characters – possibly a mistake given what they had to do to get audience favourite Colin Firth back as Harry Hart.

There’s a possible third film due in this series coming up – congratulations to Matthew Vaughn for getting this film made  but the Kingsmen will need improvements.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (15; strong violence, language, sex references, drug misuse; 141 minutes)

Director: Matthew Vaughn

Cast Includes: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges

Summary:  KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE is an action adventure comedy sequel in which the British ‘Kingsmen’ join their US counterparts, the ‘Statesmen’, to save the world from an international drugs kingpin.

Rating: *** (Serviceable action-comedy spy pastiche with adult themes)