Kingsman: The Golden Circle – The Good, the Bad and the Uncertain

Kingsman: The Golden Circle Review

Runtime: 141mins | Director: Matthew Vaughn | Rating: 4 Stars

Back in 2015 (which feels like aeons ago now) Kingsman: The Secret Service came out. Having not been familiar with the source material originally, I went in blind not knowing what to expect and I came out loving it. It was slick and a lot of fun – think Bond on steroids. Thankfully, the exact same can be said for the recently released sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

The film takes place a year later with Eggsy now balancing life between being a fully-fledged member of The Kingsman and being in a relationship with Swedish royalty, Princess Tilde. All seems to be going well for him until a mysterious organisation surfaces called The Golden Circle, who hack into The Kingsman’s network and brings about their destruction. With his old mentor Harry and the rest of the Kingsman now gone, Eggsy enlists the help of their American counterparts, The Statesman.

*SPOILERS FROM HERE ON IN – BE WARNED*

I’ll cut straight to the chase - A lot of the reviews I’ve read so far about The Golden Circle have said (mostly) that it’s good but not as good as the original. I disagree. It was different but equally good in my opinion.

As with the last film, the action was stellar. Director, Matthew Vaughn, has a way of making the fight scenes (which are some of the best in film, if you ask me) far more engaging than any other. They’re filled to the brim with hyper-violence, they’re seemingly shot in one motion, and they’re endless fun. The final fight scene in particular between Eggsy, Harry and Agent Whiskey is one of the best I’ve seen. The camera follows each character swivelling about the place smoothly, then switching to slow motion for effect when it most counts. One of the best examples of this is earlier in the film when Agent Whiskey recreates the iconic “manners maketh man” fight from the original film, and lasso’s a thrown knife from mid-air. Not only is the action spectacular in the fight scenes, but also in the environment itself. There are big explosions, whirling ski lifts falling from the air and thrilling car chases. All the good stuff, but with the panache, your average Michael Bay film lacks.

I also thought Mark Strong and Pedro Pascal gave exceptional performances in the film. For me, Pedro Pascal is one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors. He was exceptional (and still to this day is my favourite character) in Game of Thrones, and from what I hear, he’s brilliant in Narcos. It’s a shame he won’t be in any hypothetical sequels due to him being put through a mincer… Mark Strong, however, stole the show. Having been the voice of reason in both films, and Eggsy’s crutch, his death came as a surprisingly emotional blow. Tricking Eggsy into letting him take his place on a landmine to repay the debt he owed Eggsy’s father was a touching way to go. It was made exceptional when he started singing John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Road’ in his magnificent baritone Scottish voice. I must admit my eyes briefly watered up, but as the Kingsman state, you may only “shed a tear in private” –luckily I managed to stave them off. The death of Merlin (amongst others) provided the film with a more emotional side that the first was lacking in.

Now for the less good. Unfortunately, compared to the first, I felt the plot was a little weak. Everyone loves an underdog, and that is what made the first film so compelling - We want Eggsy to succeed. Now that he has succeeded and proved he isn’t just some kid off the street, he doesn’t have much room for development. Julianne Moore’s character is also underused (despite being fun) and doesn’t have any real motive for her villainy. Compared to Samuel L. Jackson’s villain, Valentine, from the first film who was intriguing, Poppy was lacklustre. The same can be said of Agent Whiskey’s motives. The reason ‘my family was killed by a drug user’ I found to be incredibly unoriginal and I wish they’d given him better motivation for his betrayal considering how great a character he is otherwise. Finally, I also felt cheated that Channing Tatum was so heavily involved in the advertising, yet had about 15 minutes screen time. What I saw of him I enjoyed, it’s just a shame it was so limited. I’m hoping, however, he was underused due to a conflict in scheduling and it was an investment by Vaughn for a later instalment where he can be utilised more prominently (or something along those lines, rather than just a name drop.)

Finally, my review would be amiss without mentioning the Elton John cameo. I feel this is a very marmite moment for people – you will either love it or hate it. I loved it. It was hilarious and unexpected, and nothing will ever be better than Elton John fly-kicking a henchman in the neck whilst in a feathery rainbow coloured costume. Saying that, I can imagine some people may have found him unnecessary, though I disagree wholeheartedly.

All in all, Kingsman: The Golden Circle was a good film and definitely did justice as a sequel – a task that seems more and more difficult these days. It was incredibly fun, tongue in cheek at points, and what it lacked in plot, it made up for with adrenaline pumping action to a fantastically chosen array of songs. Go and see it - you won’t regret it.


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