September 14, 2017

CINEMA | 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' Goes Over the Top

Taron Egerton Colin Firth Pedro Pascal Matthew Vaughn | Kingsman: The Golden Circle

British filmmaker Matthew Vaughn continues to show his love for Roger Moore camp era James Bond films with his comic interpretation of writer Mark Millar's The Secret Service in his sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The cartoonish follow-up oozes bright colours and plenty of style with more international globetrotting super-villany.

Taron Egerton returns as Eggsy, now a fully-fledged secret agent, out to save the world from another international threat headed by an American megalomaniac entrepreneur–this time played by a sickly sweet Julianne Moore. A revived Colin Firth as Harry also returns, in the most convoluted of ways, giving his character a nice, if unexpected and lengthy, arc fuelling the film's ridiculously over the top plot. An upbeat Mark Strong gets a lot more to do serving as the film's heart.

Essentially destroyed, the Kingsman organization must enlist the help of their American counterpart, the Statesman. Enter Channing Tatum and his fun Southern charm, but he deceivingly does very little and barely features in the film or its story. He shows up for a stylish introduction only to obtrusively disappear for most of the film's lengthy running while another character takes his place for no logical reason.

Both newcomers Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry are amusing as Statesman cohorts but also get almost nothing to do except stand around and be famous while appearing throughout. However, Pedro Pascal is pitch perfect as an American cowboy spy hybrid and their best agent who takes over for Tatum. Moore as the main villain clearly had a lot of fun playing the Martha Stewart of international drug crime lords with a sinister housewife persona. Her strangely energetic manner of delivering horrific orders is truly amusing.

Taron Egerton Colin Firth Pedro Pascal Matthew Vaughn | Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Surprisingly, many small characters from the first film come back to play major roles including Hanna Alström and Edward Holcroft as Eggsy's Swedish princess girlfriend and former rival. Even Elton John has a surprisingly large, very comedic supporting role as himself after being referenced the first time around. Vaughn seems to revel in building out the Kingsman world while destroying so many elements of it on screen.

Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman manage to pay off so many points of the Kingsman mythology while ignoring new factors including how easily these independent agencies can be comprised and their massive size and scope despite employing so few agents. Halfway through, they also attempt satirical plotlines involving the drug legalization and abuse of presidential powers that largely fail to impress.

Vaughn and Millar's brand of heightened comic violence remains stylish and thoughtful enough to be fun when executed by such talented actors. At 141 minutes, The Golden Circle is just too much movie to be a briskly entertaining endeavour like the first with so many characters and villains who don't do much of anything. However, Vaughn as a filmmaker is so assured and confident in what he's doing, everything is almost willed into working together. It manages to be simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating somehow.


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