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A WEAKER SEC­OND DOSE OF A FIRTH TIME

DI­REC­TOR: MATTHEW VAUGHN (KICK-ASS)

STAR­RING: COLIN FIRTH, TARON EGER­TON, JU­LIANNE MOORE, HALLE BERRY, EL­TON JOHN, CHAN­NING TA­TUM, JEFF BRIDGES

RAT­ING:

In 2014, Kings­man: The Se­cret Ser­vice struck a rich vein of guilty-plea­sure gold. Al­most 600 mil­lion bucks of tick­ets were sold world­wide on the back of giv­ing au­di­ences some­thing they had never seen be­fore.

The nov­elty value of watch­ing the pre­vi­ously posh Colin Firth drop his prim’n’proper act to berserkly bash up (and carve up and shoot up) bad dudes just never seemed to wear off.

Un­for­tu­nately, that ad­dic­tively in­con­gru­ous vibe is nowhere to be felt in the se­quel Kings­man: The Golden Cir­cle, re­duc­ing it swiftly to the ranks of ac­tion movie also-rans.

For rea­sons known only to di­rec­tor Matthew Vaughn, the movie is clearly car­ry­ing too much flab, con­tin­u­ally gorg­ing it­self on empty-calo­rie filler to the tune of 140 long min­utes of run­ning time. In fact, it is not un­til just after the one-hour mark has passed that Firth is prop­erly suited up again in the role of Harry, that suavely sav­age Sav­ile Row spy.

Why the de­lay, you ask? Put it down to a chronic case of am­ne­sia, which Harry con­tracted when he was shot in the head (and pre­sumed dead) at the end of the last movie.

While we wait for The Golden Cir­cle to put Harry back into the fray – this time on Amer­i­can soil – all well-dressed, badly-be­haved du­ties are han­dled by his rookie run­ning mate Eg­gsy (Taron Eger­ton).

Un­for­tu­nately, spend­ing all that ad­di­tional time with Eg­gsy (which in­cludes a be­yond-em­bar­rass­ing visit to the Glas­ton­bury mu­sic fes­ti­val) merely high­lights his short­com­ings as a lead­ing char­ac­ter.

Eger­ton is at a com­plete loss as to how to freshen things up, and you can’t ex­actly feel sorry for him when he’s oc­cu­py­ing screen time that could have been bet­ter used by the three Os­car win­ners in the sup­port cast.

Ju­lianne Moore plays a psy­cho­pathic drug baroness who keeps El­ton John as a pet, has one of her hench­men fed into a meat-grinder, and then fries him up into a burger.

Jeff Bridges ap­pears spo­rad­i­cally as the head of States­man, a US ver­sion of the UK Kings­man syndicate, and Halle Berry also drifts in and out of view as his sec­ond-in-com­mand.

Mean­while, Magic Mike him­self (Chan­ning Ta­tum as States­man Agent Te­quila) spends long sec­tions of The Golden Cir­cle twid­dling his thumbs.

The pro­duc­tion does have its mo­ments when it comes to cre­atively chore­ograph­ing ex­tended in­stances of wide-screen may­hem. The eclec­ti­cally ki­netic Lon­don car chase se­quence which opens the new Kings­man is as strong as any tar­mac-rip­ping sec­tion of Baby Driver.

Un­for­tu­nately, this is as good as The Golden Cir­cle is ever go­ing to get.

TARON EGER­TON, COLIN FIRTH AND PE­DRO PAS­CAL IN A SCENE FROM KINGS­MAN: THE GOLDEN CIR­CLE.

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