Monday 27 August 2018

Kingsman: The Golden Circle ★★★☆☆

This movie is absolutely a poster child for the problem sequel - just more of the same, without the originality of the first instalment. I loved it and highly recommend it.

Just in case you haven’t heard it, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) which introduced a secret organisation of British super-spy gentleman calling itself Kingsman. At the start of the film, an agent in training sacrifices his life to save an agent called Harry Hart, who has to break the news to the agent’s family. The agent in training had a son, ‘Eggsy’, who Harry leaves a medal with, telling him to call the number on the back if their family ever needs help.

Long story short, Eggsy grows into a plucky young chav who calls Harry to get him out of prison for a pretty stupid revenge carjacking. Harry sees potential in him, inviting him to join Kingsman. Eggsy’s training helps he, Harry and the friends they made along the way to defeat the big bad, and everyone lives happily ever after with Eggsy being a fully qualified Kingsman agent. This film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, picks up pretty soon afterwards, with agent Eggsy as the film’s main protagonist once again.

Being such a huge fan of the first film, I knew that it was going to be self-aware, and would need to be watched with a pinch of salt. The fight scenes are just as fantastically choreographed and shot as they are in K: TSS, and there are more of them. If you loved Colin Firth’s church scene in the first film, then you’ll know nothing can match it. But this film has some incredible extended fight scenes that follow the same kind of performance and left me not wanting them to end. In fact, it opens with one, knocking it into fifth gear before the movie has even begun. 

It’s also genuinely funny, and the dialogue is witty and charming. Meeting the US equivalent to Kingsman, named Statesman, is some great world-building and brings in some big names, such as Channing Tatum, Halle Berry and Jeff Bridges. All of their characters are great in their own ways, but the crowning glory of the film has to be Julianne Moore. Poppy Adams, the 50s-obsessed sociopathic homemaker supervillainess she plays, is so fun to watch. I might even like her more than Richmond Valentine, (Samuel L Jackson) the big bad from the first film. 

Way back in jolly old 2014, Kingsman: The Secret Service was a brilliant surprise. I don’t know what I expected when I finally sat down to watch it, but I was blown away, and recommend it to anyone that brings it up. Kingsman: The Golden Circle was the complete opposite of that experience - I knew exactly what I was heading into the cinema to watch, and it met every expectation. 

Did it surpass them? Not really. Watching this film, you get the feeling that they tried very hard to increase upon everything people loved about the first - the black comedy, the shock factor, the gadgets and such - but pushing all these features so much further pushes K:TGC into fantasy territory, in contrast to the limited believability that grounded K:TSS.

Where K: TSS was taser rings and poison-laced shoe blades, K: TGC is robotic guard dogs and villains with robot arms. Where K: TSS was ‘seduce the girl at this party’, K: TGC is ‘seduce this girl at Glastonbury’. There’s more black comedy, even more, shocking shock factor, and even snappier suits. There’s an amazingly ham-fisted and prolonged celebrity cameo that I won’t spoil for you here, but it offers only a few great moments at best and leaves you wondering if they really got their money’s worth for how much that particular celebrity must have cost. Also, this film is too long.

Speaking of ham-fisted, you’ll also be treated to some incredibly self-indulgent shots of Kingsman-branded deodorant and aftershave. In the context of the movie, they’re apparently gadgets. But I was watching in the cinema, and in the opening trailers was an advert for those very products. I’m sure it’s not just me that finds obvious product placement such an annoying mistake - it breaks the illusion of the movie world completely. 

My final take away? You will enjoy this film if you let yourself. There is a lot to love about it, and although it has some faults, how could you not (spoilers) crack a smile at Elton John fighting robotic guard dogs? Enjoy it for what it is - a big, fun, exciting mess.  

Jake Turnbull

Kingsman: The Golden Circle at CeX

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