No gold standard re­turn for spies

West Lothian Courier - - The Ticket -

With its bril­liantly bonkers set pieces, re­spect­ful tin­ker­ing with spy movie tropes and tongue planted firmly in its cheek, the first Kings­man film took crit­ics and au­di­ences by sur­prise three years ago to be­come a gen­uine break­out hit.

A se­quel, there­fore, was in­evitable and in an at­tempt to freshen things up, re­turn­ing di­rec­tor Matthew Vaughn trans­ports young hero spy Eg­gsy (Taron Eger­ton) State­side to work with his Amer­i­can coun­ter­parts to foil the plans of the vil­lain­ous Poppy ( Ju­lianne Moore).

Also back on board is writer Jane Gold­man, again adapt­ing the story from Mark Mil­lar and Dave Gib­bons’ The Se­cret Ser­vice comic book, and while the plot is still pretty in­sane, it lacks the fresh­ness and orig­i­nal­ity of the first ad­ven­ture.

Eger­ton does a ca­pa­ble job of step­ping up from ap­pren­tice spy to full-blown hero but it’s no sur­prise that the film­mak­ers have cho­sen to bring back Colin Firth’s Harry Hart, who seem­ingly per­ished in bat­tle last time around.

How Harry is res­ur­rected won’t be re­vealed here but de­spite the fact I was hop­ing for more in­ter­est­ing and dy­namic rea­son­ing be­hind his un­likely re­birth, Firth again out­shines his younger co-star in a charis­matic part he was born to play.

The cast is swelled quite dra­mat­i­cally from its pre­de­ces­sor and the jour­ney to the US al­lows some fa­mil­iar big names from Hol­ly­wood to get in on the Brit-joke. Mak­ing the best new im­pres­sion of all is Moore, per­fectly de­scribed by Vaughn in the pre-re­lease hype as “Martha Ste­wart on crack”.

Chan­ning Ta­tum (Te­quila) and Jeff Bridges (Champ) make ap­pear­ances that are more fleet­ing than you’d ex­pect but both bring smiles to faces and, along with Halle Berry’s tech sup­port Gin­ger, sup­ply a touch of class and glam­our.

The Golden Cir­cle can’t match the first film’s mem­o­rable cameo count, although you’ll never look at Sir El­ton John the same way again with the mu­si­cal icon show­ing David Beck­ham how this act­ing lark is re­ally done.

There’s no deny­ing the fact much fun will be had sit­ting through Eg­gsy’s sec­ond mis­sion, and Vaughn could still show some of the busi­ness’ big­gest name ac­tion direc­tors a thing or two about shoot­ing in­ven­tive set pieces – wit­ness the open­ing taxi-set brawl.

But too of­ten it feels like the di­rec­tor and his team are try­ing too hard to de­liver a “big­ger and bet­ter” se­quel by throw­ing loads of things at the screen and hop­ing at least most of it sticks.

Maybe they are just ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the dif­fi­cult ‘mid­dle film syn­drome’ that all too of­ten hin­ders se­quels and will put things right with the al­ready an­nounced Kings­man 3.

I hope so as it would be a real shame if this in­spired, un­con­ven­tional trib­ute to the spy genre was al­lowed to peter out quicker than Ge­orge Lazenby’s stint as James Bond.

In a spot of bother Eger­ton and Mark Strong (Mer­lin)

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