Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
Release Date: September 22nd, 2017 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Matthew Vaughn Actors: Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Colin Firth, Edward Holcroft, Hanna Alstrom, Julianne Moore, Sophie Cookson, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal, Poppy Delevingne
he first thing on the screen is an orange tuxedo – because the “Kingsman” series seems to be firstly about fashion and only secondly about entertainment. And then there’s hi-tech gadgetry, a car chase, contrasting music, and dizzying camerawork. Like the previous picture, it’s hyper-stylized and edited to appear unlike a movie – or, rather, unlike events that could take place in a movie set on Earth; the perspective is so fidgety that the whole thing quickly becomes a blur of gunshots, explosions, special effects, and the slow-motion defying of physics.
Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is confronted by rejected Kingsman applicant Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft) and forced into a car at gunpoint. Although it’s ostensibly an assassination attempt, the genuine motive is revealed shortly after a deadly fracas, when all of the Kingsman agents are murdered in their homes by missiles (apparently, England has no defense for missile strikes from outside their borders). The action choreography in this opening sequence is so poorly imagined that it’s virtually a cartoon; so much green-screen technology and computer animation are used that it’s difficult to tell if anything real was filmed at all. It’s like a blend of a Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner skit and “The Adventures of Tintin,” as well as being a slap in the face to any true stuntmen who might have been involved. With so much phoniness, there’s no suspense; with nonexistent realism, it’s not exciting – it’s just a lot of noise and lights.
At least the humor is more consistent than before. In this follow-up, it never actually gets serious. Eggsy jumps into raw sewage for his girlfriend, the Swedish Princess (Hanna Alstrom), whose reward for Eggsy having previously saved the world was anal sex (a gag that continues on into this sequel and represents the ultimate, quizzically unattainable prize for heroism), before preparing for an important dinner to meet her parents. Meanwhile, a narcotics queenpin named Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) plots to use her global monopoly on the drug trade to destroy the world, aided by her henchmen in the Golden Circle underworld organization. She proves her evilness by gruesomely offing an associate, while her minions demonstrate their loyalty by having a crudely scrawled 24-carat gold, cosmetic tattoo applied to their necks. With the incredibly advanced technology in the film, from robo-dogs, to gel packs that can stop death, to nanites, to internet-connected glasses that can live-stream flawless video over the lenses (without ever charging), it’s strange that the Golden Circle hasn’t perfected the art of tattooing a simple ring shape.
There’s a great amount of science-fiction in the film (even more so than in James Bond’s latest adventures, which this film might have aimed to spoof, were it not for the sincere action attempts), which makes one long for the old days when mad scientists just wanted to steal some machine guns or a nuke. When the only two Kingsman survivors, Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong), head to Kentucky for backup from the American’s independent intelligence agency equivalent (called the Statesman, hiding behind a whiskey distillery instead of a tailor shop), the nonsensical futuristic weaponry grows even more absurd. Somewhere along the line, Harry Hart (Colin Firth) returns, but the “how” of that resurrection soon transforms into “who cares?”
Once again, the violence is just bloody enough that it’s difficult to embrace the humor of it (such as when a person is tossed into a hamburger grinder), while the characters and the scenarios are just repetitive enough to wonder why this second chapter exists at all. Following in the footsteps of the previous entry, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” features concepts like globetrotting, celebrity cameos, germ warfare, social commentary, satirical political jabs, terrorism, sexual asides (for the sake of saving the world, of course), brawls specifically for a bit of feel-good comeuppance, and insufficiently-guarded secret facilities – which are penetrable by a mere two-and-a-half agents. Predicaments spring up from carelessness, not proficient villains, while references to the first movie arise in nearly every other scene. The humor turns out to be the most dependable factor here, as it provides relief from the dreadfully overlong running time, but it’s never quite hysterical enough to top anything from before, nor is it frequent enough to save this production from tedium.
– Mike Massie