Monday, September 25, 2017

Movie Review: "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" (2017)

Director: Matthew Vaughn
Year: 2017
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 21 minutes

After a tragic set of attacks wipe out most of their agents, the remaining Kingsmen seek help from their American counterpart, the Statesman, in order to combat a criminal enterprise known as The Golden Circle.

The Kingsmen are back and they are bigger, louder, flashier, and more American than ever, but are these good things? "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" is directed by Matthew Vaughn and is, of course, a sequel to his hit 2015 film "Kingsman: The Secret Service." Returning for this installment are Taron Egerton as Eggsy and Mark Strong as Merlin. There are a few surprising returns as well, including Edward Holcroft as Charlie, former Kingman recruit turned villainous henchman. Charlie was thought to be dead with his head exploded off-screen in the original movie. Also returning to the series is Colin Firth as Harry, Eggsy's mentor and highly skilled Kingsman who was shot in the head by Valentine, which very, very much took place on screen in the previous installment (this is not a spoiler, he is in all of the marketing and promotional materials for the film). So how did these two "thought to be dead" characters make a comeback? Well, it's a bit of a stretch for both of these individuals, but we guess a slight bit of bullshitting works if you're willing to suspend your disbelief enough (a heavy suspension of disbelief, no doubt). The Kingsmen now face a new threat from the world's largest drug cartel called The Golden Circle, which is run by a 1950's nostalgia-obsessed woman named Poppy, played by Julianne Moore, who may put on a sweet demeanor but is actually a deranged psychopath who owns gigantic robot dogs. After a series of explosions targeting the Kingsmen's agencies and safe houses, the remaining agents seek assistance from their American counterpart called The Statesman, who operate out of Kentucky under the guise of a bourbon distillery. Differences aside, the two organizations must team up to defeat Poppy and her Golden Circle.

We absolutely love "Kingsman: The Secret Service." When it came out, it was very fresh, fun, and sleek, an extremely fun ride. It had great characters and an engaging story that kept us drawn in from start to finish. Knowing the track record for sequels in Hollywood, we didn't expect "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" to be quite as good, but we still had some hope. Unfortunately, "The Golden Circle" definitely doesn't reach the heights of the first film. That being said, it still is an entertaining, enjoyable movie if you know what to expect. The same type of humor found in the first installment returns in spades in the sequel, and we laughed quite a bit throughout the film, whether it be at the blatantly bizarre song selections playing during slow-motion action scenes or whenever Elton John was on screen. We still really like Taron Egerton as Eggsy, who is quite charming as a now full-fledged Kingsman agent. Mark Strong gets to fill a larger role here and we enjoyed his presence on screen. Merlin is quick with an intelligent quip, and Strong plays the part well. Colin Firth is as awesome as always, and Pedro Pascal is a fantastic new edition to this installment as agent Whiskey. Pascal is the definition of swagger, and he and his lasso kick some major ass, partner. Another new addition we can't forget to mention is Julianne Moore, who is suitable for selling a Stepford Wife-looking exterior with a cold-blooded killer inside. Her maniacal giggle gives way to some terrifyingly gross moments involving heavy duty kitchen equipment.

One of the downfalls in "The Golden Circle" is the unevenness to almost everything. While it is louder, flashier, and more bombastic than the first, it is excessively so. If you liked the original film, this sequel doubles down on everything good about it, and a little to its detriment. Vaughn has actors like Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, and Jeff Bridges at his disposal, but they are completely under-utilized. The action is still ultra-stylized and as over the top as ever, but some of the CGI seems much more noticeable and a little worse this go around. It still makes tongue-in-cheek jokes about James Bond film tropes, perhaps even more so than before. The story here just isn't as intense or as engaging. The movie is a tad too long, but we thought it moved pretty well despite its runtime and we never felt bored while watching it. Realistically though, with explosions, 8000 new characters to introduce, blue rashes, and chase scenes all over the damn place, can someone ever really be bored with so much chaos being thrown at the screen? Finally, our biggest gripe is Charlie Henchman, aka disposable bad guy #2981301 with a robotic arm. He is nowhere near as cool, as menacing, or as useful of a henchman as Gazelle with her sword feet, and Vaughn and co. could have made this character literally any other person and it wouldn't have made a bit of difference.

While some aspects of "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" feel a bit redundant, unnecessarily messy, and over the top, it's still an entertaining flick if you like noisy, raucous, insane action flicks like the first installment.
My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.4/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 85%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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