'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' Takes Action To The Extreme
By Devvon Eubanks
If you asked, James Bond (at least Daniel Craig's version) would say being a secret agent isn’t easy. Not only does one have to handle sensitive information with the utmost discretion, but you also have to be an adept thinker, a master of armed and close quarters combat, and a protector who is willing to put their life on the line. Most importantly, everything must be done with finesse, subtlety, and stealth. But when it comes to being a Kingsman, it's all about shooting the bad guy first with the loudest gun possible in the most stylish way while completely throwing tact out the window. Coming off a successful first outing at $415 million worldwide, Eggsy and company are back with even more action on top of action. An interesting narrative that starts with the crippling of the agency under a new crazed villain, this movie reveals that the Kingsmen aren’t the only agents on the block. With another CG-filled thrill ride from beginning to end, does the film retain the original charm that made “Kingsman: The Secret Service” a commercial success, or does it lose its character by suffering from action overload?
Following the first film, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Edgerton) is now a full-fledged operative who is settling down with his new girlfriend, Swedish Princess Tilde (Hanna Alstrom). But after running into Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft), a former Kingsman initiate turned evil, Eggsy and company uncover a new secret organization called the Golden Circle, led by drug cartel headmistress Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore). Before they're able to discover what the group's aims are, Poppy destroys all Kingsman bases in Britain, leaving only Eggsy and tech specialist Merlin (Mark Strong). Because of this disaster, the pair travels to Kentucky and finds a partnering agency under the guise of a whiskey distillery known as “Statesman.” Working together with their American cousins and witnessing the fiendish plot laid out by Poppy, the two groups must put a stop to her evil plans and save the world from destruction.
The plot is reminiscent of a typical spy story. There is a major threat from another villain bent on world domination, thus it takes a secret organization to bring them down. Nothing new. Because of this, the film loses a bit of its original appeal, which showed how Eggsy became a Kingsman while surrounded by Richmond Valentine’s (Samuel L. Jackson) evil operation. Adding to the clichéd theme, the movie also does a bit of globetrotting between various locations as Poppy unveils her scheme, which is a refreshing change of scenery. The witty and comical banter is still present, which will keep audiences chuckling as the action progresses. And speaking of action, if viewers loved the first film's violence, the brutality in “The Golden Circle” isn't on steroids so much as amped up on cocaine, heroin, and energy drinks, with a dash of John Wick mixed in for flavor. Alluring and captivating, there is deadly and dazzling gunplay, absurd acrobatics, electrified lassos and high-tech gadgetry, and outstanding fighting that will give action fans their fix. However, addicts can overdose, and the insane amount of action ends up slowing the movie down, which it really can't afford with a two and a half hour runtime.
All of this would be nothing without the wonderful cast. Most of the main characters make a return, while Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, and Pedro Pascal round out the new ones. In fact, these new characters give Statesman’s Wild West, American frontier theme a bit more character and flair than the Kingsmen, complete with cowboy boots, rustic clothing and weaponry, and booze-themed code names. The dynamic between these two groups is quite interesting, and giving us some good dialogue and a unique take on what a service agent looks like. On the other hand, Moore’s Poppy leaves a bit to be desired. Her dual identity of a wholesome, classic 70s mother meets ruthless drug kingpin is a neat idea, but comes across as somewhat vapid and lackluster. I sorely wish that she had a personality which reflected her character, being overly nice and chipper when she is happy, but being menacing and sadistic when she is upset, executing her own henchmen personally rather than letting others to the dirty work, which would have made her scenes more engaging and dynamic. Add to this an “interesting” but more comical cameo than the last film, and you have a sweet recipe that isn't ruined by a few sour ingredients.
“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is an engaging and energetic continuation of the series that fans and newcomers should be pleased with, despite its shortfalls. But the question left to ask is, where do the Kingsmen go from here? Obviously with two outings and a few issues with this latest, careful direction must be taken in the sequel to prevent viewers from getting tired of the same formula. Nevertheless, like “The Golden Circle,” viewers can be sure that the ride will be wild and the action wilder, regardless of the threat these sharply-dressed heroes of the world face.