Hello and welcome to the movie blog of author John DeFrank - FilmZ and Guy Sobriquet Malone - Researcher

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Kingsman: The Golden Circle, reviewed by Guy S. Malone

In 2015, Kingsmen: The Secret Service sneaked into theaters with modest expectations and turned out to be an original, exciting, and fun skewering of spy films--James Bond meets Monty Python.  As a result, Kingsman: The Golden Circle arrived with great expectations--perhaps, unfairly, too great.  The most important carryover from the first film is that K:TGC never takes itself too seriously--it is a saving grace, really.  FilmZ and I wanted to like K:TGC in the worst way, and that's exactly how we liked it.  K:TGC is such good-natured fun that we can't find it in our hearts to hate it.  Yet the hackneyed, silly plot and pyrotechnic overkill wear thin over the course of a 2:21 runtime in which it seems nothing ended up on the cutting room floor.

A good example is the opening chase sequence that displays outstanding effects and imagination, but it's never a good sign when an action scene goes on so long that it becomes boring.  It pits our Kingsman hero, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) against old nemesis, Charlie (Edward Holcroft), a failed trainee for Her Majesty's Secret Service, now a cybernetic assassin in the employ of arch-villain Poppy (Julianne Moore).  Operating out of a kitschy 1950s-themed stronghold in the deep forest of Cambodia, Poppy is the mastermind of the largest worldwide drug cartel.  Her evil plan: distribute a poisoned product that will bring slow, painful death to all users unless world leaders decriminalize all recreational drugs.  If they accede to her demands--thus making her a legitimate businesswoman who can return to civilization--she will send out drones with the antidote.  Oh well, there have been dumber plots.  Poppy's first step: she has discovered the Savile Row tailor shop Kingsman as the front for the British Secret Service she tries to eliminate all of the Kingsmen at once, a plan that leaves only Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong)--the Kingsman version of Bondian tech wizard Q--alive.

Eggsy must abandon his love, Princess Tilde (Hanna Alstr√∂m), and head off to the US with Merlin to unite with their American brother-organization, the Statesmen, whose cover is a distillery, led by Champagne, or Champ (Jeff Bridges).  Other Statesmen are Tequila (Channing Tatum), Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal, channeling Burt Reynolds).  For some reason, the Statesmen have been holding a man they call The Lepidopterist," whom Eggsy and Merlin are shocked to learn is really Harry (Colin Firth), AKA Galahad, the greatest Kingman of all, who was killed--shot through the eye--in the first movie (a miracle brought about after that film grossed over $400 million worldwide).  Anyway, the Statesmen have discovered a way to heal such wounds with a sophisticated air splint--I know, I know--so Harry has lost only an eye and his memory.  Now, it is left to the remaining Kingsmen and the Statesmen to intrepidly and implausibly bring down Poppy and her plot.  And, in the process, free Elton John from servitude to Poppy--I know, I know.

Writer Matthew Vaughn can spin an action yarn, but his dialogue is often wooden and clunky, a trait that creates significant hurdles for Director Matthew Vaughn, who never fails to coax mediocre (or worse) performances from some very good actors.  In this case, feel sorry for 2014 Oscar-winner Julianne Moore's daffy Poppy and 2010 Oscar-winner Jeff Bridges' Rooster Cogburn parody.  Colin Firth (2011 Oscar winner), Halle Berry (2002 Oscar winner), and Mark Strong escape relatively unscathed only because they are playing caricatures as arch as their archetypes.  And the star, Taron Egerton, has his character, Eggsy, down pat; both likable and convincing.  Back to the dialogue: I am not a prude; the occasional F-bomb can add perfect seasoning to dialogue.  Note: I said, Seasoning.  Like salt.  Not slathered and forced where it doesn't belong, like the rube who pours ketchup on a steak dinner and slops it into the Cabernet.  (Have you ever been around that middle school boy who shoe-horns F-bombs into his conversations at inappropriate times, just for the sake of impressing you with how badass he is?)  On the plus side, as we said, K:TGC is played for both tongue-in-cheek and zany fun; the VFX and action choreography are imaginative and sometimes spectacular.  We hope that, should a third Kingsmen be made, Vaughn eschews the low-brow and returns to the surreal, infectious satire that made the original so fresh.
6.0 out of 10 on an Entertainment Scale
4.0 out of 10 on an Awards Scale (outside shot at VFX and some small, niche awards)


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