For anyone who has not seen “Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle,” this review contains major spoilers. You have been warned.
I have waited three years for a sequel to the Matthew Vaughn masterpiece “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”
It had a perfect mixture of hilarious comedy, top-notch acting, brutal violence and a simple origin story that audiences and critics alike raved about.
The sequel I got, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” had none of these things.
It was a truly disappointing display and a misunderstanding of what made the first movie so great.
For a little background, the first “Kingsman” film tells the story of Eggsy, played by Taron Egerton, the British protagonist who joins a secret spy agency to save the world from an evil technology mogul who plans on killing off most of the world’s population.
Eggsy makes meaningful connections with many of the people associated with the organization, including a fierce recruit named Roxy, the pug the Kingsman gives to him – whom he names J.B. – and the agent who is tasked with training him named Harry.
Harry is subsequently killed later in the movie, and, because of the excellent world building done earlier in the movie, Eggsy’s sadness for his fallen friend is shared with the audience.
In the end, the world is saved, and Roxy and Eggsy become members of the Kingsmen.
“The Golden Circle” opens on Eggsy as a fully-fledged Kingsman, fighting a recruit from the first film who did not make it and has “turned evil.”
If the rest of the film would have been as epic as its opening action sequence, the world would have had two amazing “Kingsman” movies.
But alas, it’s not to be.
The film brings back all of the characters from the first film, and within the first twenty minutes of the movie, proceeds to kill them off.
Roxy, the character with so much potential from the first film? Dead.
All the other Kingsmen? Dead.
Even J.B. the adorable pug? Dead.
It has no purpose. The audience has not even gotten a sense of what the entire film is about and suddenly, all the world building and connections established in the first movie are gone, cast to oblivion like dust in the wind.
But who is alive, you may ask?
Harry – brought back to life with a deus ex machina that allowed the ever-classy Colin Firth to return to the screen.
While it is pretty nice to see one familiar face among the living, it nullifies the deaths of the other characters.
If Harry can be brought back to life, what about the other Kingsmen?
Later in the movie, another character is shot in the face, and is brought back, further frustrating the audience.
The magic of resurrection that is presented takes away all the stakes and anticipation from the rest of the movie.
The first “Kingsman” was so popular at the time for its Westboro Baptist Church fight sequence where in a blend of practical and computer generated effects, a gory and violent battle is shown in its entirety though one shot that lasts over a minute, set to the guitar solo of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.”
The entire scene is a “blink and you’ll miss it” moment.
“The Golden Circle” revives the sweeping camera motions of the church sequence in all its fight scenes, but lacks the crucial element of the long shot.
The camera movements and the constant cuts are distracting and more akin to the teacups ride at the fair than a competent scene.
The plan of “The Golden Circle’s” antagonist, played by Julianne Moore, leaves much to be desired as well.
Instead of the straightforward evil plans of classic spy movies and even that of the first “Kingsman,” “The Golden Circle’s” villain is the leader of an international drug cartel that has infected her shipments with a poison that will kill all those who are using them.
Although she has manufactured an antidote, she is holding it hostage from all the drug users until the president of the United States decides to make all forms of recreational drugs legal.
The president responds to this by doing nothing and plans to let all the users die, a decision that he is later impeached for.
“The Golden Circle” is basically taking the stand that light recreational drug use and self-medication should be legal, which is fine, but when such a controversial message is being broadcast though such an overall silly movie, it loses all its meaning and just works to confuse the audience as to what the movie is trying to say.
Even if you can get past all the nitty gritty details that not everyone will care about, “The Golden Circle” has one last fatal flaw that sinks the final nail into its coffin. Elton John. Introduced early in the movie as a fun cameo, he becomes a fully-fledged and sadly essential part to the plot as a hole.
Bad puns and out of context sexual innuendos coming from the famed singer bring the movie almost to the point of parody, but not good parody like Austin Powers.
The Austin Powers movies are simple to follow, do not ask much of the audience and are actually entertaining films.
“The Golden Circle” on the other hand is trying to be the “Citizen Kane” of movie spoofs, and it just does not work.
In conclusion, if you really, truly, desperately want to watch a second “Kingsman” movie, do yourself a favor and just watch the first one twice in a row.