When we last saw Gary “Eggsy” Unwin in Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), he was about to receive a precious reward that Princess Tilde, a newly rescued Scandinavian princess. A special thank you that even 007 could truly appreciate. Now in this sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, one wonders what sort of shenanigans Eggsy will get into this time around.
Kingsman: The Secret Service was about the coming of age of a young man. Eggsy was enticed to join a private British company that serves as the intelligence organization that is built to define what other intelligence organizations should be – essentially MI-6 without all the bothersome oversight and regulation. Eggsy was from the East End and did not fit in at all with the other recruits. Eventually he surpassed them all under the tutelage of Harry Hart, his sponsor.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle takes the next step in the life of Eggsy as a full-fledged agent. Oh, and it starts with the destruction of the Kingsmans’ headquarters. So Eggsy is a bit adrift in this one, until he seeks out the help of a fraternal organization in the United States called the Statesman. Together the two agencies must find the culprit behind the attack and, naturally, save the world in the process. This also serves to carry on the fish out of water aspect so integral to the first film as Eggsy goes to Kentucky. Not a natural combo, as you could guess.
The film stars Taron Egerton / Eggsy, Colin Firth / Harry Hart, Mark Strong / Merlin, Julianne Moore / Poppy, Halle Barry / Ginger, Channing Tatum / Tequila, Hanna Alström / Princess Tilde and Pedro Pascal / Whiskey.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle was directed by Matthew Vaughn, who also directed Kingsman: The Secret Service. He is best known for his X-Men films, although his first film, Layer Cake (2004), is, in my opinion, perhaps his best. Vaughn and his writing partner, Jane Goldman, wrote the screenplay for Kingsman using source material from the original comic book that was written by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons.
Kingsman, once again, pays clear homage to the old spy movies of an earlier age. For example, it is safe to say that Daniel Craig isn’t likely to run into a nemesis like Jaws anytime soon, as Roger Moore was forced to do. That is a good thing for the Bond series, I suppose, but a bad thing for those of us that warmly recall the popcorn appeal of a movie with fun villains like Jaws or Oddjob. Not every flick is Schindler’s List (1993), folks.
This Kingsman sequel finds Eggsy as an accomplished agent, but one who still very much misses his mentor. As the trailers of the films informs us, his mentor, Harry Hart, is actually still alive. In fitting fashion, a ridiculous explanation is provided to us that accounts for this surprising news.
The fact that Eggsy is then forced to ease Harry back into the spy game and play the mentor role for a bit is an interesting twist that would have been much more impactful but for one thing. That one thing, as has been widely reported, is that the director, Matthew Vaughn, implored the studio to not reveal that the Hart character was revived at all.
The reality of today’s media makes it impossible to hide the fact that Firth was in the film. But a simple misdirection form the studio could have led one to believe there was a flashback of some sort rather than spoil the near resurrection plot point. I get how the film demands having Hart in it. The church fight form the prior film was the high point of the movie for me. But showing the hand too soon here really is a detriment to the overall production in my opinion.
In any event, the combined efforts of the remaining Kingsman and newly discovered Statesman are then focused on finding out who is behind the attack on the Kingsman HQ. This brings us to the villain of our story. Poppy is a drug kingpin, in a secret Grease-inspired lair in Cambodia, with a mania for all things from the kitschy 50’s. Happy Days to hula hoops. She is nuts. Which is fun.
Suffice it to say, her plans are not friendly and are wildly insane in the extreme. Sort of like the last film in that fashion. But she is prettier than Samuel L. Jackson so you gotta give her some props. Also, anyone with killer robot dogs is not someone to be messed with lightly.
The good guys traipse from London to Kentucky to the Alps and finally to Asia to try and save the day. You know I cannot tell you more than that. That would be cheating. Besides, you probably can guess who wins anyway, right? Much mayhem, ultra-violence, and set pieces ensue.
Overall, this film is not as stunning as the first installment but it is a fun ride nonetheless. If you were hoping for bigger and better you may be a bit disappointed there. More of the same. Yes. You do get that, at least.