KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE gets 5.5/10 Gentlemen prefer Bonds

Directed by Matthew Vaughn
Starring Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Mark Strong

5.5/10

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) introduced us to comic writers Mark Millar and Dave Gibbon’s take on the spy genre. Director Matthew Vaughn, himself no stranger to Millar’s work, having previously adapted Kick-Ass (2010), brought the graphic comic to the big screen with all the appropriate pomp and circumstance that the adventures of “Eggsy” (Taron Egerton) and Harry Hart (Colin Firth) deserved. Vaughn now helms Kingsmen’s second outing with Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

When Agent Galahad (Taron Egerton) is attacked by an ex-Kingsman candidate, Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft), he fails to realise that it is the entire organisation that is under threat from a mysterious drug cartel called the Golden Circle. After a series of devastating missile strikes destroys the Kingsman, Galahad and Merlin (Mark Strong), as the only agents left, enact the doomsday protocols. There they discover another organisation, an American version of their spy ring, The Statesman. With their “American cousin’s” aid, it will be up to the Kingsmen to stop the Golden Circle’s leader, Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), before she can enact stage two of her plan and threaten the world.

The first Kingsman worked because of it being a smart parody of Bond. The aspect of class was part of its thematic, and an issue it was able to address to separate itself from 007. Despite it’s crass sense of humour, and glorified ultra-violence, it was an intelligent take on the spy genre. The second shot at the brass ring (or Golden Circle in this case) is not riffing on that, and is a bit muddled about what it is saying. Without that deeper foundation Golden Circle becomes less of a satire, and more of a clone of Bond. Sure it takes the ground of high end spy-fi that the more recent Bond films have vacated, but it is nothing we haven’t seen in the 60s and 70s from the franchise, just given a fresh face, some computerised special effects, and a couple of swear words. It even revisits a few of the old Bond locations and as well as referencing a number of famous scenes.

Which in itself would be fine, if The Golden Circle did more with its plot. Instead it falls into the traditional trap for a sequel, spending the first third of the film moving the pieces to set itself back up on similar footing to the first film. Working an under-baked script it doesn’t really do much with the new aspects that it introduces. The Kingsmen’s American cousins, The Statesmen, are under served by the tale (both Channing Tatum and Halle Berry have nothing to do here), nor is Julianne Moore’s Poppy an interesting villain beyond her 1950s American aesthetics.

It does have some moments though. Vaughn handles the action sequences with a degree of competency, and continues to thrill. Elton John also gets a great extended cameo, that although overused, are probably the funniest moments of the film. It’s just that there is nothing here that even comes close to the heady heights of either the church sequence or the head popping climax (set to Pomp and Circumstance) of the first film.

Lacking the flash and originality of the first, Kingsman: The Golden Circle languishes in the ordinary. It is not a bad spy film, it just has very little to make it stand out from the pack.

DAVID O’CONNELL

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