So I watched Kingsman: The Golden Circle…
I’ve been eagerly anticipating this film’s release for months now. Kingsman: The Secret Service was a riot and one of my favourite films of 2014. Its seamless blend of comedy, outrageous action and overall coolness was great fun to watch. This movie had quite a bit to live up to and, thankfully, it does.
Okay, basic plot: A year after joining the Kingsman, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) finds himself one of the last surviving members after a secret organisation called The Golden Circle systematically eliminates the Kingsman’s headquarters and their agents. Eggsy along with Merlin (Mark Strong) – the only other surviving member – must now follow the Doomsday Protocol. A protocol which leads them to America where they find a private intelligence organisation called Statesman which functions very much like the Kingsman. Along with their American counterparts, Eggsy and Merlin set out to find The Golden Circle and eliminate them before their leader Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) can unleash her devious plot.
I think the number one thing this film managed to do right was to hang on to Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman. Vaughn returns to direct, and co-write the film with Goldman. The pair’s return ensures that this film has the same fun and slick action to it that made the first one such an enjoyable watch. Goldman and Vaughn have worked together on films like X-Men: First Class (the best X-Men movie in my opinion) and Kick-Ass, Now normally they’ll work on the first film but are noticeably absent during the film’s sequel and, from what I’ve seen, the sequel always suffers because of this. So their return is undeniably the best thing about this film.
Speaking of returns, the majority of the lead cast from the first film reprise their roles – whether they were shot in the head from point blank range or not. This isn’t a spoiler because Colin Firth’s face has been ever-present in the film’s trailers and posters. His character Harry Hart aka Galahad returns and while I do enjoy seeing Firth kick ass, I just wish movies would stop killing people and then resurrecting them. If you bring back every character then when a character actually does die, their death won’t mean much. But this really is a small complaint.
One thing I can’t complain about though is this movie’s action. Oh, the action, the sweet, sweet action. It’s elegantly, EXTRAVAGANTLY elaborate and ostentatiously over-the-top. What I’m trying to say is that it’s f*cking cool. The action excites you, it makes you want to get out of your seat and cheer. Is it illogical? Of course. Impossible? DUH! But it’s just so creative and innovative. The way it’s shot also is a marvel. The use of slow-motion and numerous cuts creates a perfect medium for you to enjoy it. Now, normally, the use of numerous cuts is something I hate because it detracts from your enjoyment of the action; but Matthew Vaughn uses restraint and utilises the cuts to enhance your view of the action. See why I was so happy he stayed on?
The film also has that great dialogue and humor that the first one did. Goldman and Vaughn really craft a great script. I remember describing the first Kingsman as this hybrid between Austin Powers parody and James Bond classic. It mocks certain cliches while also enforcing them; is self-aware but also seemingly oblivious. It’s good to watch because it’s serious about not being serious or not serious about being serious. Either way, it’s a blast! Unfortunately, the film does have moments where it’s stagnant and moves with the pace of a turtle in molasses. It’s a problem which I also had in the first one. I think it’s due to the juxtaposition of crazy, out of this world action with the quieter, set-up scenes. When someone isn’t using an umbrella to kill a bad guy or firing a rocket from a briefcase, things do feel a bit dull.
This movie feels more forward-thinking than its predecessor and by that I mean that it’s setting up for a sequel. Certain actors definitely don’t get the screentime you think their Hollywood status would warrant and it becomes clear that this is only because they’re going to have a bigger role in an eventual sequel. I didn’t really mind this because the story functions well as a standalone and the actors who do get the lion’s share of the screentime do amazing work and are entertaining.
Lastly, I have to say something about the acting because there really are no weak links in this chain. All the members of the cast understand the tone of the movie and adjust their performances accordingly. This isn’t some melancholic Oscar contender or classic piece of theatre. It’s a fun action movie. Don’t get me wrong, the actors still put in good performances. Pedro Pascal who stars as Whiskey was probably my favourite of the lot. He just oozed swagger and was a total badass in every fight. I also liked Julianne Moore as Poppy – the villain of the piece. Like Samuel L. Jackson, Moore portrays a rather colourful villain who isn’t exactly evil but just has some radical views. I enjoyed Moore’s performance but I didn’t find her character as engaging or memorable as Jackson’s Valentine.
Overall, Kingsman: The Golden Circle improves on the quality of the first. There are some truly outrageous action sequences which I cannot wait to revisit. The film is funny and really a movie that you’ll just enjoy watching. It’s worth going to the cinema 8/10