Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) Cover

Sequels can be extremely difficult to judge independently of their previous film(s), yet Kingsman: The Golden Circle does an excellent job making it stand on its own. As a sequel to the comic book-based Kingsman: The Secret Service, this second adventure is a self contained story with subtle ties and references to its predecessor. Action-oriented sequences with a visually distinct style create an enjoyable experience to any fan of the spy genre.

The film immediately jumps into action with a stylized camera sequence that pulls the viewer into every frame. This technique makes the rapid back-and-forth fighting between world class special agents easy to follow with the fight choreography itself being tight, focused, and repetitive. This fun, bouncing, and wildly absurd style lasts until the very end. From the use of an electro-lasso, to a freezing blue slime-bomb, and even a pair of robot dogs named Benny and Jet, the absurdity seems perfectly in place within the world of these super spies.

Such spies populate the entirety of the story as the opening act establishes the agency as a target for eradication. Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the lead agent, is partnered with Merlin (Mark Strong) on the film’s onset and the story alternates back and forth between their covert operations and the machinations of the villain. We only get a short glimpse at Eggsy’s personal life when it highlights the conflict between his work and his relationships. A source of most of the comedy is from further in where the British agents are forced to journey to the United States and reach out to their long-forgotten brothers-in-arms: The Statesmen. The Kentucky-based, cowboy hat wearing, line dancing, bourbon drinking good ol’ boys are the equal but opposite of their neighbors across the pond, forming a classic team up. The Kingsman are joined by Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and supported from afar by Merlin and Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) as they piece together the existence of the titular Golden Circle: a global drug cartel plotting to blackmail governments into legalizing their product.

The delicious character interactions of the heroes unfortunately highlight the blandness the villain, Poppy (Julianne Moore). Presented from the beginning as evil for the sake of being evil, she has no clear motivation beyond wishing to move back to the United States without giving up her illegal business. There is no show of emotion, rationale, nor even ideology behind her entering the drug trade. Even her nostalgia is expressed with the same bland and emotionless smile she has in every scene. This straightforward approach could be forgiven if it was paired with surprising twists instead of the reveals being overtly suggested in advance. Evoking no emotional response, the final twist is used solely for closure and is nothing the audience hasn’t figured out already. A fun, upbeat, and even comical soundtrack filled with classic folk rock as well as bluegrass cover songs often enhances the more lighthearted parts. Unfortunately, the score itself is merely a punctuation point on otherwise enjoyable scenes. While failing to ever be essential to the emotional response of the viewer, it never feels out of place. The result will leave some wanting more while others are quite satisfied.

Ultimately, this film is neither about poignant commentary on illegal trades nor covert operations inherent strain on the relationships of agents. This film is about watching hilarious and exciting action and enjoying the interaction between characters with subtle character development. Though not truly great, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is unquestioningly an enjoyable escape.

Final Verdict:Highly enjoyable with great style and solid but occasionally weak narrative.