Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the highly anticipated sequel to surprise hit Kingsman: The Secret Service. The Golden Circle follows Eggsy and Merlin, the two lone survivors of an attack on the Kingsman. The pair travel to America where they find allies in their U.S. counterpart: the Statesman. Together, the two secret service organizations must stop a secret enemy and save the world.
The film returns its director Matthew Vaughn and its stars Taron Egerton, Mark Strong and Colin Firth. This time, Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Pedro Pascal, Halle Berry and Julianne Moore join the cast. With the exception of Moore, who excels as a delightfully vindictive villain, the new faces form the Statesman and bring a more American take to the film, although not always for the better.
The film aims to replicate its prequel in many ways. It succeeds tonally with brand of action and tongue-in-cheek comedy. The fight scenes and violent sequences still take center stage, but Vaughn tries too hard. The film features the same stylization but seems as if it is the scene’s focus instead of the plot. The comedy succeeded in the first film but now feels forced and irrelevant. The jokes land occasionally but frequently doesn’t fit the characters or situations.
The characters are both the strength and weakness of the movie. Eggsy and Merlin return to strong performances and share great chemistry, picking up where they left off. The inclusion of the Statesman, however, brings an unnecessary crowd. Individually, each of the Statesman contributes something valuable. Tatum has nice moments as “Tequila.” The bad-boy agent “Whiskey” of Statesman and Pascal’s western fighting style is incredibly fun to watch. Jeff Bridges gives a great turn in limited screen time with the kind of role that he has spent his career perfecting. Even Berry’s character has redeeming qualities. But together the combination of secrets, motivations and personal sequences muddle the movie and make it hard to connect with.
The real star of the film was the villain Poppy (Julianne Moore). The first film prided itself on its villain (Samuel L. Jackson), a megalomaniac with a lisp and penchant for street fashion. The Golden Circle also features an eccentric antagonist. Poppy is bright-eyed and full of smiles, but hidden behind her jubilant demeanor is a genius that accepts no disrespect or insubordination. The slight insanity and overdone, nonstop joy is executed perfectly and elevates the film.
Kingsman: The Secret Service became a surprise hit and was a successful film partly because of its classic spy tropes. The film noted the clichés that wear down spy films and used them to their advantage by turning them on their heads and almost breaking the fourth wall. However, The Golden Circle suffers from the clichés it parodied in the first film.
The Golden Circle also featured a many outrageous and unbelievable plot points, including graceless character deaths and illogical fight sequences. Some suspension of disbelief is expected in a film like Kingsman, but the story must be somewhat realistic; otherwise, the story’s emotional connection fails. The film was a difficult story to care about as anything more than a popcorn flick. Sometimes that’s okay, but The Golden Circle is the kind of film that seeks to have more quality connections with its audience.
The Golden Circle was not a bad movie. It includes moments of redemption and some impressive action sequences that make it worth watching. As the sequel to such a strong movie, its inability to meet certain expectations diminishes the film.