The sequel to 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Golden Circle reunites the creative team behind 2015’s smash hit for another ride on the Kingsman train. The first film, based on Mark Millar’s 2012 graphic novel, planted the seeds of the franchise’s universe, as its new-born successor steps in to water them.
Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton), gentleman spy and Kingsman agent, continues his work keeping the peace around the England, only a year removed from the events of the first film. With the help of fellow agents Merlin (Mark Strong) and Roxxy (Sophie Cookson), the Kingsman prosper for a period of time until they’re attacked by a mysterious organization called The Golden Circle, led by Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore). Down to their last few agents, The Kingsman are forced into their Doomsday Protocol, leading them to join forces with their American counterparts, The Statesman, to track down The Golden Circle and put an end to their madness.
Borrowing from the first film, Director Matthew Vaughn plays with his loosely made set of rules to see just how outrageous he can make his action sequences. REALLY stretching the rubber band here, Vaughn breaks the mold and manages to bring together his action choreography, fantastic action cinematography, and incredible music selection to form incredibly dazzling and energetic scenes of glorified violence. Perfectly crafting his scenes, Vaughn knows how to perfectly pace his action, allowing the viewer just seconds to sit in awe at the audacity of one specific moment, before moving onto another moment just as dazzling, allowing the scene to build up in spectacle and energy to form truly mesmerizing and breathtaking sequences. While there are no set-pieces quite as memorable as Harry’s church massacre in The Secret Service, an argument can be made for The Golden Circle having more energetic and captivating action sequences than the first film. Oozing with charisma and style, Vaughn’s action perfectly compliments the tone of the film, and vice-versa.
The script, while not quite as clever and subtle as its predecessor, is great at utilizing Chekov’s Gun and foreshadowing future events. Screenwriters Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn do a superb job at setting up future plot points and set pieces. Every action a character takes, every gadget used has some sort of payoff later on in the film, especially evident during the final showdown in Poppyland.
Although well written, the script has faults that ultimately hurt the film during the course of its runtime. The film suffers from questionable character actions, as well as failing to take full advantage of most of the Statesman. The film also fails to address huge consequences brought forward at the end of the first Kingsman film, which, although not directly influencing the events of this film, is a monumental change and problem in the Kingsman world. Jeff Bridges (Agent Champagne) and Channing Tatum (Agent Tequila), both heavily marketed, are barely featured in the film at all, a disappointment to some viewers.
Although Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum are sidelined throughout most of the film, the rest of the performances across the board range from fantastic to good. Newcomer Pedro Pascal (Agent Whiskey) really shines during his extensive screen time. The most well-defined and character-driven Statesman, Pascal brings a cool, badass southern vibe to his character that makes him an instant standout and fan favorite. Julianne Moore hams it up and chews on her scenery during her time as Poppy Adams, and it’s easy to see just how much fun she’s having playing her character. Of course, Mark Strong and Taron Edgerton are great, and it’s a blast watching Colin Firth reprise his role of Harry Hart after the events of the first movie.
Although I must say, perhaps the real show-stealer in this film is Elton John, who provides some of the best scenes in the entire film.
While not as memorable and clever as the first Kingsman, The Golden Circle is a great entry into the Kingsman franchise, one of the most fun and innovative action franchises today. The Golden Circle is one of the best action films of the year and is worth the price of admission due to Elton John alone, more so if you were a fan of the first Kingsman.