So what do you do when you take a the best re-imaginings of the British spy movie in the past 50 years and make a sequel? Well you keep the comedy, keep the action, and remove the British part of it all and replace it with a huge helping of AMERICA!! That’s how I felt coming out of Kingsman: The Golden Circle… and it was somewhat disappointing.
Title: Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Production Company: TSG Entertainment, Marv Films & Cloudy Productions
Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Directed by: Matthew Vaughn
Produced by: Matthew Vaughn, David Reid, Adam Bohling
Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum & Jeff Bridges
Based on: Kingsman by Mark Millar & Dave Gibbons
Release dates: September 22, 2017 (United States) / September 21, 2017 (Australia)
Running time: 141 minutes
Rating: R (United States) / MA15+ (Australia)
A year has passed since Eggsy Unwin and the secret organisation Kingsman saved the world from Richmond Valentine’s neurological wave broadcast. He has since taken his late mentor Harry Hart’s title of Galahad and lives with Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden. On his way home he is ambushed by Charlie Hesketh, a former Kingsman trainee who lost his arm and vocal cords during the Valentine incident. Eggsy evades Charlie and his henchmen in a car chase across London, but Charlie’s severed cybernetic arm hacks into the Kingsman servers through the car’s computer system. While Eggsy is away in Sweden, a volley of missiles destroy the Kingsman headquarters and wipe out all of the agents in Britain, including Eggsy’s best friend Roxy. Being the only surviving agents, Eggsy and Merlin follow the Doomsday protocol, which leads them to Statesman, a secret American organisation posing as a Bourbon whiskey distillery in Kentucky, and a much deeper plot begins.
Taron Egerton as Gary “Eggsy” Unwin / Galahad
Having officially been promoted after the events of The Secret Service, Eggsy is still the new polite gentleman that he was trained to be during the previous movie. He’s shacked up with the Princess that he met at the end of The Secret Service and is about to marry her, leading to a few choice moments of comedy in The Golden Circle. Egerton is still great in the role, showing a lot of class while making as much of the out there action seem plausible at the same time.
Mark Strong as Merlin
Merlin is just the same as he ever was, the brains behind the missions and technology that runs Kingsman. He spends a lot more time here as he did in The Secret Service, as the man behind the mission. Strong’s performance is as good as it has been before, only more interesting given his final moments in The Golden Circle.
Julianne Moore as Poppy Adams
Poppy Adams is a woman who was placed into the role of babysitter for the American Black Ops opium trade in Columbia. Having gone crazy in her job, she creates a virus that attacks anyone using her product worldwide, leading to the possible death of millions. A side effect of her madness is her obsession with the 1950s, having recreated many key places in her hidden compound, including a theater which houses a surprised kidnapped musical guest. Moore is a delight to watch as Poppy, encasing the typical nice loving American Homemaker of the era along with insane psychopath at the same time.
Halle Berry as Ginger Ale
Ginger is the Statesman version of Merlin, the brains behind the mission and technology of the group. She spends a lot of the time in the same situation as Merlin, only she gets a little extra with her interactions with another Kingsman character who returns from The Secret Service. Berry is a waste here as she deserves so much more in terms of being a bigger player in the overall story. Her character Ginger however seems to be placed into the background till either the third movie or a Statesman spin off.
Channing Tatum as Tequila
Tequila is meant to be one of the top agents of Statesman, but due to him using drugs, is taken out of The Golden Circle very early and literally spends the movie on ice till near the end of the whole thing. Tatum is another big name who deserves much more than he got, but by the looks of things will be a bigger feature in the possible third movie.
Jeff Bridges as Champagne “Champ”
Champagne is the head of Statesman, using their operation as a business to help fund the operation while keeping the world save as a side project. He’s old thinking, old speaking and old mannered. Bridges is perfect for the role and it’s a shame that he spends most of the time sitting in and office doing nothing.
Pedro Pascal as Jack Daniels / Whiskey
Whiskey is the main Statesman who works in the field. He’s the only one who works directly with Eggsy in The Golden Circle as they try to take down Poppy Adams and her plan. However he does change his mind later in the film and wants Poppy’s plan to happen as he hates drugs himself. Pascal does well in this role, being able to capture that American style in gun fighting and using the lasso which is why he gets most of the action scenes in The Golden Circle.
There is a lot to like about Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The music is still a delight to listen to, the action scenes are still an over the top spectacular, and the character choices are quite well done even if they are trying to top load the movie with as many American A-Listers as possible. Just like in The Secret Service, the villain is the highlight of the movie. Julianne Moore is an amazing pleasure to watch as Poppy Adams, showing that sweet 1950’s style American Homemaker who has gone nuts in a job she didn’t really want in the first place. Sure, her character uses a virus to send a message about Drug use as where Samuel L Jackson’s character in The Secret Service used a phone frequency to send a message about the environment, but it’s the delivery of the threat which makes the two stand out from each other.
The Statesmen as an organisation are just what you would expect from an American version of The Kingsmen: A loud, technologically advanced, arrogant bunch of rednecks who do things their way and never even look at the book. The facing off between the two sides with their clash of styles and everything play really well to the overall theme of the film. The more you see of some characters, the more you wanted to see them in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which leaves you wondering why some characters were left sitting on the sidelines so long.
The one thing that makes Kingman: The Golden Circle different is exactly what makes it a pain to sit through: Americanism. For a movie that originally was the re-imagining of the classic British spy movie, having all the British-ness removed from the movie and having it replaced by ‘Murica! is really jarring. Kingsman: The Golden Circle even goes as far as taking one of the best scenes from Kingsman: The Secret Service, the bar fight, and remakes it with one of the Kingsman being able to do nothing, leaving it to one of the Statesman to come in and do the whole scene over in the over the top American style, complete with lasso. To me this was a slap in the face to everything that made Kingsman: The Secret Service such a great film to watch. If anything, there is so much ‘Murica! in Kingsman: The Golden Circle that it makes me wonder why they used the Kingsman name in the first place (with exception of branding of course).
At the end of it all, I got exactly what I wanted out of Kingsman: The Golden Circle; which was more action, more comedy and the story of Eggsy continues. I did have a huge problem with how much ‘Murica! was in the film, to the point where you could tell that this was an American version of what the director wanted to do from day one, which lessened the appeal of the Kingsman branding. However given the post-credits scene in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, we might be getting back on track for the third movie.
American James Bond
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is how you should make a sequel for the most part, you keep what works in the action scenes, the plot and the interesting villain; but they made a mistake by taking the focus off the British nature of the series and replace it with so much America that you see the movie through a red-white-blue filter... and that hurts the series overall.