I was a fan of the first KINGSMAN film back in 2014. This stylized, violent, charming and daffy film took my completely by surprise and I LOVED the world that was built, the characters that were introduced and the STYLIZED VIOLENCE that was set forth and I couldn’t wait to see what comes next.
And…what comes next was more of the same, but without the shock and awe of the uniqueness of things and, quite frankly, I was feeling somewhat disappointed…
And then an “old friend” from the first film shows up and the film recaptures the magic of the first for the 2nd half of this movie and, by the end, I had a ball.
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE follows the exploits of the hero from the first film Eggsy (a “good enough” Taron Egerton). When a disaster takes out most of the Kingsmen, it is up to him and gadget wiz Merlin (Mark Strong – more on him later) to find out who targeted the Kingsmen and take them down. To do this, they must join forces with their compatriots in the United States – THE STATESMEN.
And…this is where this movie bogs down. While the Statesmen should have been interesting and quirky (like the Kingsmen), they instead are boring stereotypes. Channing Tatum is bland as main STATESMAN Tequila, while Halle Berry is wasted as the Statesman’s counterpart to Merlin – Ginger Ale – and don’t even get me started on how Jeff Bridges seems to be sleepwalking through his part as the head of the Statesman. It is only when a long presumed dead character from the first film shows up does this film pick up steam and start to approach the energy, enthusiasm and audacity of the first film.
It’s not a spoiler to say that this character is Collin Firth’s agent Galahad (they do a nice job of bringing him back from the dead) and when the story focuses back on Egerton, Firth and Strong joining back up to fight the villain (a deliciously evil Julianne Moore), the fun returns and stylistic violence gets turned up a notch and becomes quite stylistic and quite…ahem…violent.
So why is this? I think it is because the filmmakers are British, so they have a good handle on how to subtly poke fun at the James Bond SuperSpy character-types and their only exposure to an American Hero is John Wayne or Clint Eastwood so they poorly try to spoof American stereotypes and they fail badly.
Only Pedro Pascal (TV’s GAME OF THRONES and NARCOS) fairs well as one of the U.S. Agents (and he’s Chilean!) showing more than one dimension whilst the others do not.
Thankfully, the 2nd half of the film focuses on the 3 British Agents/stars and that is where the film really takes off. Mark Strong, in particular, really comes into his own as Merlin and becomes the heart and soul of this film. As a matter of fact, I’d be fine with them killing of Egerton’s character and just give us a movie with Firth and Strong, but, alas, that’s not going to happen.
One last note. There is a very British, very popular, very aging member of ROCK MUSIC ROYALTY that makes an extended cameo in this film (maybe even a supporting part) and this person understood the type of film they were in and went along with the fun with a wink in their eye and a skip in their step. It was fabulous, darling, a highlight of the film.
As were all things British, too bad the Americans were around to bring the fun down.