by Ian Morton
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is just as bonkers as its predecessor, but a few miss steps along the way make it nowhere near as fun as the original.
After taking down the elite Kingsman secret service, a global drugs kingpin (Julianne Moore) unleashes a plot to get her substances legalized and trading on the stock exchange (that’s right, you read that correctly). With the world being held to ransom, it’s up to the two remaining super spies (Taron Egerton and Mark Strong) to collaborate with their ‘American cousins’ to defeat a common enemy.
Very much seen as a guilty pleasure, the original Kingsman was an ode to James Bond turned excessively up to 11. Depending on whether you jumped on board or not determined your enjoyment level, but regardless of how you felt, everyone collectively agreed that THAT church scene was #amazeballs. Whether you wanted it or not, Eggsy and the Kingsman are back with a new crew aligned against a new foe.
Starting as it means to go on, the story begins with an explosive car chase as Eggsy (Egerton) is hunted down by an unknown gang of evil-doers. Echoing the unique visuals of the first, director Matthew Vaughn wastes no time jumping back in with his signature style and cartoon-like camerawork. While these visuals hark back to what made the original so compelling, overuse of risk-free CGI does more harm than good, as the director tries to up the stakes and best the original whenever possible.
Only once the kaleidoscope of action is over does the plot begin to simultaneously reveal itself and unravel at the same time. As soon we’re introduced to the main villainess and the exposition begins to flow are we hit with sudden realisation that the script didn’t spend much time circulating around the writers table. While it deserves some credit for attempting to take things in a different direction, the risks it takes ultimately become its downfall.
Vast amounts of continent hopping aside, the biggest issue isn’t necessarily where we are being lead but rather how we get there. Fumbling from one scene to the next consequently depletes any brevity the central plot tries to establish as clumsy set pieces frequently miss the mark and fail to connect where they need to. One particular scene for example not only fails to land, but also caused an entire audience to clench up in awkward harmony, as our hero pushes Bond-esque seduction past the point of no return.
For all its misfires however, seeing Taron Egerton, Mark Strong and Colin Firth reprise their roles does manage to claw back some of the charm the original was known for. Easily likeable and a solid performer on screen, Egerton once again dons the suit with the same foul mouthed anecdotes as before, while Firth returns as suave agent Harry Hart and Strong delivers as tech support, Merlin. With the film somewhat struggling when missing from the screen, their electricity as a trio is truly felt once all 3 are reunited.
Despite these favourable leads however, easily one of the bigger disappointments comes with the severe underuse of new additions Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry. While the advertising may point to some significant roles for these Hollywood heavyweights, it soon becomes clear that these roles are no more than mere appearances once Tatum is put on pause and Berry/Bridges get confined to the watchtower.
Overall, while Kingsman: The Golden Circle does try to up the ante, a daft, unstructured plot with some failed set pieces really douse the flames of a series that many were surprised to enjoy in the first place. 2 out of 5 stars.
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