The Golden Formula
Back in 2015, director Matthew Vaughn released the unexpectedly successful Kingsman: The Secret Service. The style, self-awareness, and just over-the-top nature of the movie sent it spiraling into success both critically and commercially. Now with any movie that becomes a success, there will most likely be a sequel that tries to be bigger and better than its predecessor, capitalizing on the tropes that made the original so fun and overusing them. This is exactly what Kingsman: The Golden Circle does to a degree, however it still holds true to its roots and throws in heart with its characters despite the shaky plot, unexplained sequences, and insane action scenes.
After the events of the first movie, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is now a full-fledged member of the British spy organization Kingsman, working alongside Merlin (Mark Strong) on various missions. When a mysterious drug organization known as the Golden Circle led by Poppy (Julianne Moore) attempt to destroy the Kingsman, Eggsy and Merlin find themselves without their resources and the impossible task of saving the world again. They team up with their American counterpart, Statesman, to exact revenge and put an end to the drug trade.
All the performances are fine this time around with Taron Egerton being the standout. He brings his same bad boy charm and enthusiasm to the role that was a highlight of the first Kingsman movie. It is nice to see how much he has grown since the first movie and the steps he takes to be a good person and stay true to his moral center. Mark Strong also delivers a strong performance as Merlin, serving as an anchor for Eggsy in the absence of so many of their comrades. He is kind yet brutal and often hilarious at times.
The other characters are frankly a little too over-the-top but still have some fun. By far the coolest addition to the cast is Pedro Pascal as Whiskey from Statesman, a gunslinger esque fighter with some great action scenes. Channing Tatum’s Statesman character (whose name I’ve already forgotten) serves essentially no purpose in the film other than to have the actor appear. Julianne Moore’s villain character is never identified as a force to be reckoned with as she isolated from the conflict for most of the movie.
There is also the reemergence of Colin Firth’s character from the first movie, but it is definitely not needed nor warranted. The explanation of why he is there is done pretty sloppily and does not really make a lot of sense. It is fun to see him again but his addition to the film isn’t justified in the plot which is sad considering his strong performance in the previous film.
The plot of the movie is extremely shaky and runs for a bit too long. There are sequences when our characters need to attain information, but they go through this long elaborate plan to get it. Characters need to seduce a girl to get information out of her and the entire scene takes about 15 minutes to get one piece of information that really isn’t that vital in the long run. The film feels drawn out and doesn’t keep you invested in the conflict, especially when there is too much silliness in their escapades.
The action scenes are fun and ridiculous at the same time keeping in line with the first film. Stunts don’t make sense, but the fights are brutal and exciting especially in the third act of the film as it nears its conclusion. The stakes are real and there is a reason for the fights to happen. There is no attempt to re-do the infamous church scene from the previous film which I liked. However, the camerawork is a bit jarring at times in the first two acts with action that it can detract from the experience. There are also much more shorter action scenes to throw in the audience’s face to keep them excited during some of the more boring sequences. They are not properly paced and can sometimes be a bit too much.
The movie does remember its characters and their relationship to one another, and that forms a good core for the movie to rest on. The relationship between Eggsy and Firth’s character was strongly established in the first film and, while not further explored here, is still able to hold weight. These characters are a family, albeit a highly dysfunctional one and you get a sense that they have something worth fighting for.
There is enjoyment to be had with the new film, but it does not come close to what its predecessor had established. The Golden Circle tries too hard to capture the same charm and wit, but ultimately delivers more of the same. It doesn’t try anything new and delivers more of what fans liked in the first one which is the same over-the-top nonsense that made this franchise stand. The action scenes and the relationships between characters hold this movie together and make it enjoyable. Ultimately, if you liked the first movie you will like this one but to a lesser degree due to the familiarity. Here’s hoping the third one will try something new…