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Film Review – Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

In February of 2014, many were shocked at how entertaining Kingsman: The Secret Service was, gaining more and more fans as each week passed at the theaters.  Now, Matthew Vaughn and Co. are back to deliver some more of the heightened fun that we all loved from the first film in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.  This time, however, the Kingsman will have some help from their American cousins, the Stateman!  The following review will be spoiler free.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Synopsis

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is once again directed by Matthew Vaughn and contains all the stars from the original such as Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, and Mark Strong and also contains some fresh new faces like Pedro Pascal, Julianne Moore, and Channing Tatum.

After saving the world, the Kingsman must quickly jump back into action after Poppy (Moore) destroys their headquarters and other properties.  Leaving them with no other options, the Kingsman manage to team up with the Statesman, an American underground spy agency.  Eggsy (Egerton), now somewhat of a veteran agent, must use everything at his disposal before Poppy enacts a plot that could put the fate of millions of people at stake.  Thankfully, Eggsy gets a little help from an old friend.

Background

Matthew Vaughn has been reluctant to return to franchises in the past, most notably with Kick-Ass 2.  In this case, the X-Men: First Class director quickly expressed interest in directing the sequel to Kingsman, as long as it grossed enough money to warrant one (which obviously, it did).

However, although Vaughn wanted to return, he ran into a conflict as he was very interested in also directing a remake of the cult classic Flash Gordon.  Luckily, Vaughn opted for this film instead.

The production for Kingsman: The Golden Circle wasn’t a smooth ride, unfortunately.  Production had to circumvent one of Egerton’s other projects, a starring role in Lionsgate‘s new Robin Hood franchise.  Filming became even more unwieldy once more top-notch actors signed on, forcing Vaughn to be clever in shooting.  In fact, the release date of the movie was changed multiple times, moving from mid-July back to October then forward again to its current release date.

Taron Egerton is a Star, and He Needs to be in More Films

As in the original, Egerton is the best part of this film.  If you can believe it, he saunters around with even more swagger and style this time around, revelling in his role as the anti-Bond.  Hollywood continues to search for another male to put front and center, but they shouldn’t look any further.  Egerton oozes charisma unlike any other young actor today, and he proves that statement here.

He somehow even manages to be the emotional core of the film.  Although The Golden Circle gets weird and downright insane, Egerton is there to keep it somewhat grounded in a quasi-sense of reality where you feel like you could still lose any one of these characters despite the fact that baseballs double as hand grenades in this universe.

Egerton has that “it’ factor.  No matter what he does, you just can’t help but love him.

World Building that Actually Works

Matthew Vaughn even succeeds in building on the world that he established in the original Kingsman.  The Stateman are a fun little touch to this film, adding some wild west flavor to the heightened, frenetic action.  Vaughn obviously loves playing with satire, and the Statesman are an obnoxiously silly exaggeration of the American way.

Most sequels have that issue where they add multiple new characters to the mix, making the entire movie feel bloated without giving any one character their due.  Thankfully, Kingsman 2 manages its incredibly talented cast well, allowing the central bonds to remain in place for the most part.

Lacking the Oomph that Made the Predecessor So Great

As with the original, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is clearly a riff on the Bond films, becoming self-referential almost to a fault.  However, whereas Kingsman was similar to a film like GoldenEyeKingsman 2 shoots its metaphorical wad, getting closer to Moonraker.  This notion isn’t necessarily a bad thing on its own, but one can’t help but feel like it’s all too much.  This film is the classic example of too much of a good thing.  The Golden Circle suffers from the common disease known as “sequel-itis.”

Everything gets bigger.  The villain is more over the top, the gadgets are more absurd, and the action even climbs to greater extremes.  However, these elements do not add up to a better time.  The script has become way more unwieldy, failing to capture the fun and excitement of the sleeper hit of 2014.

In essence, Kingsman 2 is like a greatest hits album.  It plays off of fans’ favorite parts from the first film, adding them into the middle of a far less interesting plot.  You’ll perk up once you hear “manners maketh man” or when the same musical cues from Henry Jackman’s great score start to play.  But, they aren’t in service to anything inventive.  For all this film’s creativity, it feels surprisingly stale.

This movie feels like it’s just wacky for the sake of being wacky, quite literally winking at the camera as chaos ensues.  That’s not to say that there isn’t fun some set pieces in this film (because there certainly are), but none of it holds the same weight.  For lack of a better term, the story to this sequel is just dopey.  Every character is clearly having fun, but for what purpose?

Final Thoughts

In the end, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is like an aging baseball player.  Every so often, you see glimmers of the greatness that it once was, but one can’t help but notice the player in his current form, the one that’s a step slow.  You won’t hate watching him, but you eventually admit to yourself that he’s just not the same.

But enough with the extended metaphor.  Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a shell of the original, even if there’s still some fun to be had.  It gets a C+.  This sequel isn’t terrible, but a more inspired final product would’ve been appreciated.

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Nick Kush

A current young professional, Nick founded MovieBabble in October of 2016 in order to provide insightful film analysis that is meant to educate and entertain. Nick is also a member of the Internet Film Critics Society. You can follow Nick at the official MovieBabble Twitter account @MovieBabble_

12 Responses

  1. I liked the first Kingsman but it never resonated with me to the degree that it did with others. I was not really excited for the sequel and, after seeing the reviews for it, I think I’ll give it a miss.

    • Nick Kush says:

      I think it’s best that you wait until it’s on HBO or Netflix. There’s nothing about it that warrants heading out to the theaters.

  2. Very interesting read. I’ve been looking forward to watching this (and some little part of me hoped that it would be one of those films with a kick as sequel like POTC) but I know in my heart of hearts that it just won’t compare to the first no matter what. My one gripe is that they chose to show Colin Firth in the trailers when I would’ve so much liked to have gone into the film wondering will we/won’t we see him – it would’ve been a nice surprise but maybe that’s just me. Never mind though, whenever I see Taron Egerton is anything I just want to cry cause he’s so cute and I 100% agree he needs to be in more things – his depiction of Eddie in Eddie the Eagle was second to none. I look forward to watching Kingsman soon and writing my own review to see if I agree with you!

    • Nick Kush says:

      I like you idea of hiding Colin Firth in the trailers. His presense definitely didn’t pull more people into seeing the movie

  3. I really liked the first one. I watched it several times. I’ll still go see this one.

  4. I definitely agree with your general impression of the film but I think it still warrants a higher rating. The editing is still top notch above anything but Baby Driver this year and it’s still a lot of r-rated fun.

    • Nick Kush says:

      I think with this film there’s a disconnect between the level of fun and filmmaking. I would watch it again because of the characters, but it just wasn’t cohesive as a story.

      I would actually disagree with the editing. I found that Vaughn tried to string together shots with 2008-level CGI to make it look like one take that just didn’t really work for me.

  5. I know the original tried to play up Eggsy as a blue collar anti-Bond but I never thought that angle worked–as one critic pointed out, the ending apparently says blue-collar guys can be good spies if they just reinvent themselves to look suitably white collar.
    Of course I also thought Egerton has all the charisma of a block of feldspar.

    • Nick Kush says:

      I think it was less of the idea of blue-collar guys turning into white-collar to become spies isn’t necessasily the case. If you remember from the first film, everyone else was born with silver spoon, making Eggsy an outlier. While he makes it, his friend Roxy also makes it at Kingsman. The two had very different backgrounds but still ended up suceeding in the profession. Even Colin Firth says that being a Kingsman is not a matter of one’s birth right. Anyone can do it.

      That’s a good thought you have there, but from my point of view, the story of Eggsy is more of a coming of age story about a man finally living up to his potential.

  1. October 13, 2017

    […] Circle FINALLY. After reading Nick Kush’s review on his blog MovieBabble (which can be read here) I have been gasping to see it. I had a completely different Film Friday planned for this week but […]

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