Kingsman: The Golden Circle
While it lacks some of the spark of its predecessor, this sequel still entertains with its wildly outlandish brand of action.
If crafting a successful sequel wasn't already a difficult assignment, doing so for a movie remembered for its quirkiness and surprise factor must border on the impossible. Still, when Kingsman: The Secret Service took in over $400 million worldwide, a follow-up was inevitable. And so two years later director Matthew Vaughn has returned to the world of suave secret agents with Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
Let's be clear: this is a ridiculous movie in almost every respect, from the mad-cap story through to the action scenes, cameos and costuming. Everything in Kingsman: The Golden Circle is hyped-up, spun-around, slowed-down, blown-up or cut in half. Gravity is largely ignored, except when it's used as a weapon, and henchmen die with the same violent regularity as extras in Commando. There are robotic killer dogs, cannibalistic villains and Elton John ninja-kicking a bad guy in the face. As we said, it's ridiculous – but also surprisingly entertaining.
Our villain this time round is none other than Academy Award winner Julianne Moore as Poppy, the world's leading and most ruthless drug tzar. Her Cambodian lair has been fashioned as an homage to 1950s Americana, complete with bowling alley, golden age cinema and a shake and burger diner in which she both conducts her business and minces her victims. She's an apron wearing Stepford Escobar who owns every second of screen time given to her. Tasked with stopping Poppy are the bespoke-suited Kingsmen in chav-turned-gent Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and his tech man Merlin (Mark Strong). Back too is Colin Firth's Galahad, suffering from a nasty bout of retrograde amnesia. They're also joined by their American counterparts The Statesmen, whose ranks include Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Jeff Bridges and a criminally-underused Channing Tatum.
Silly and fun as it might be, there are some glaring problems with this film, most notably that it's unfathomably sexist. With the one exception of Julianne Moore's Poppy, every single woman in Kingsman: The Golden Circle exists only as a victim, a love interest or an assistant to her male counterparts. Given the movie was co-written by Jane Goldman, it's beyond comprehension why such rampant and unnecessary gender bias could exist in a movie where masculinity plays no meaningful purpose. Yes, it's about spies in sumptuous suits, but as one of the early scenes demonstrates, Eggsy's best friend and colleague Roxy looks as good if not better in the ole pin stripes and paisley, to say nothing of her abilities.
Still, the film is entertaining in spite of its flaws and it thankfully retains enough shock factor to honour the original. The final scene also makes clear that the producers are prepping for part three. Love it or leave it, there's more Kingsman to come.
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