Kingsman: The Golden Circle Review

Two years ago, Kingsman: The Secret Service seemed to come out of nowhere, ruffling feathers as it took an anarchic, often transgressive approach to the super-spy genre and made a star of Taron Egerton. Now Matthew Vaughn is back with a sequel, and it’s rather clear that he has a franchise in mind. The new movie is still wildly energetic and eye-catching, but it also has a more predictable plot that takes fewer risks.

We catch up with Eggsy (Egerton) as he’s a respectable member of the Kingsman juggling his private life with his serious girlfriend Princess Tilde (Hanna Alstrom). But megalomaniacal drug lord Poppy (Julianne Moore) and her part-cyborg henchman Charlie (Edward Holcroft) launch a vicious attack on Kingsman bases, leaving Eggsy and his colleague Merlin (Mark Strong) on their own. For help, they turn to their American counterpart Statesman, run by Champ (Jeff Bridges). His agents Tequila, Whiskey and Ginger (Channing Tatum, Pablo Pascal and Halle Berry) offer help getting Kingsman back on its feet. And they also reveal that they’ve rescued fallen agent Harry (Colin Firth), who is recovering from a brain injury. Meanwhile, Poppy launches a global assault.

To tell this rather simple story, Vaughn indulges in all kinds of flashy visual trickery. The action sequences are choreographed like wacky cartoons, as the camera swoops through the complicated mayhem with acrobatic skill. And the characters are vividly played by the top-notch cast with maximum personality flourishes. Egerton is terrific at the centre, as adept at physicality and comedy as he is at finding a touch of emotion here and there. His scenes with Firth are especially strong. And Moore makes the most of her goofy kingpin, who is trying to recreate 1950s Americana in the jungle, plus added madcap 1970s flair with a riotous Elton John, who gets stuck right into the mayhem.

Most of the other characters get lost in the shuffle. Strong has some terrific moments all his own, and Pascal has a lot of charisma, but Bridges, Berry and Tatum are sidelined, perhaps waiting for their own spin-off movie. And its this “movie universe” approach that weakens the film, making it feel oddly safe. There’s one ludicrously sexual plot point that feels badly contrived to add a moment of rude vulgarity. Otherwise, the film is fast and silly, piling witty dialogue into nutty action set-pieces to keep the audience smiling. Most audience members won’t care that Vaughn has diminished the brand, but it would have been nice to see him push boundaries even further.

Watch the trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle: