Kingsman wins round two
It is the endearing cast of Kingsman: The Golden Circle who elevate what might otherwise be merely a threestar, mediocre, cashing-in sequel to a ludicrously popular breakout hit.
But since I’m not reviewing for myself, the cliche ‘‘know your audience’’ rings loud. The first Kingsman movie shot out of the blue to entertain and titillate audiences, performing box office magic and cementing its creators as forces for Hollywood to reckon with. Written by Jane ‘‘Kick-Ass’’ Goldman and directed by Lock, Stock producer Matthew Vaughn (Director of Layer Cake and X-Men: First Class), this very British film capitalised on the whole world’s love for Colin Firth and a stunning debut by Taron Egerton to produce a hugely successful, and often witty, update on the James Bond legend.
The Golden Circle picks up soon after Eggsy, our working-class hero-turnedspiv, left off: now settled into happy domesticity with his Swedish princess, he must suddenly fight for his life when threatened by a ghost from the past. And fight he does, in the back of a London cab being pursued through city streets before applying his boy racer skills and doing a Bond to get away. This high-octane madness happens in the opening scene, and sets the tone (that is, high-paced and well-orchestrated) for the following two hours.
Despite the cringing misogyny and implicit hatred of humanity exhibited by the first movie, Kingsman‘s conceit and high-quality cast deserved much of its kudos.
The Golden Circle goes one higher in the casting stakes, with Julianne Moore as the adorably sociopathic drugmanufacturing baddie and the welcome return of Mark Strong’s rich Scottish brogue.
Since he has top billing on the poster, I’m allowed to spoil Firth’s unexpected return, and as Eggsy’s evident father figure, Harry provides the emotional heft in the film.
Both Firth and Egerton acquit themselves beautifully in the story’s quieter moments (which are few), and keep us engaged even throughout the story’s rather long-winded travels from London to Kentucky to the Italian alps and into Southeast Asia. (It’s not just the musical score which consistently evokes Bond, but the compulsive journeying across the globe.)
While Strong provides the film’s best moment, there is plenty of fun to be had with bit-players Channing Tatum (who is frozen for half the film but seemingly in the wings for the next sequel) and Bruce Greenwood, hamming it up as a dense, misanthropic President of the United States. The gimmick of Elton John playing himself initially feels weak but goes on to provide some of the biggest laughs. And the British-American love is evident, with some tender Scotch v Bourbon jibes.
The action-packed script doesn’t leave much space to get bored (although there is more explanation than strictly needed by your averagely observant viewer) but the run-time is still far too long.
However, the fight scenes – full of fast-slow speed-ramping effects and innovative use of weapons – should amuse even those who found the church massacre in the Kingsman: The Secret Service unnecessarily grotesque.
For someone who was not ultimately won over by Kingsman‘s charms, this follow-up turns out to be less offensive and more entertaining. – Sarah Watt
Channing Tatum and Halle Berry are among the great cast of Kingsman: The Golden Circle.