Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Kingsman: The Golden Circle might be a halfway entertaining action flick but it lets itself down by ignoring what made the first film a success. In place of the original rags-to-riches story, this sequel starts and ends with a protagonist who has pretty much everything and who fails to demonstrate any real kind of growth. The decision to stick with Taron Egerton as the lead makes sense and he certainly does some commendable jaw-clenching throughout. However, the fact that his character, Eggsy Unwin, already spent the first movie becoming a hyper-competent spy means that the sequel has backed itself into a corner when it comes to creating conflict.
The feature has a two-pronged approach to this problem, although neither works very well. Early on, a large chunk of what Eggsy spent the last film earning, including the Kingsman society itself, is destroyed. The blow is mourned for a sparse two scenes and then fails to have any further emotional impact, instead making way for the arrival of a new batch of characters with the introduction of the Kentucky-based spy company, Statesmen. This is clearly intended to be something of an upgrade, allowing the franchise to usher in more famous actors, but the result is that more time is needed to establish these new characters and their dynamic with those left over from Kingsman. Despite the picture’s two-hour plus length, the time to do this is never found. The Statesmen spies are either stinted when it comes to screen-time, as with the criminally underused Channing Tatum, or reduced to blurting out their motivations in lieu of having them established more organically.
On the other hand, this film seems determined to create further emotional drama in any way possible, often at the expense of narrative logic. A character commits a noble sacrifice that feels shoehorned in and a relationship breaks down due to the least necessary fingering in cinema history. By contrast, Kingsman contained dilemmas that weren’t as obvious as death or the loss of a relationship but that had an earned emotional impact because it spent time ensuring the audience was invested in the stakes. All the conflicts here are neatly resolved without much effort and even the most significant tragedy of the original, the death of Colin Firth’s Harry Hart, is undone.
This isn’t to say that Kingsman: The Golden Circle fails to entertain. Even without the chemistry of the original cast, it retains a lot of its tongue-in-cheek charm and, once again, depicts a superficially charming villain whose logic we can almost appreciate. Julienne Moore does an excellent job as Poppy, the head of an international drug cartel willing to do whatever it takes to have controlled substances legalised. At times, there is almost too much of a resemblance to the first movie, right down to the inclusion of a disabled henchman with a lethal prosthetic, but as Poppy and her dastardly plan are one of the few highlights it feels difficult to resent these similarities. In fact, The Golden Circle could have benefited from paring down some of its lengthy action sequences in order to consider the conflict over drug legalisation more, particularly since the depiction of drug users is unusually sympathetic for a mainstream film.
Other than that, however, the flaws are difficult to overlook. The few well-rounded female characters have been discarded, little more than glancing lip service is ever paid to Eggsy’s working-class past and even the relationship between Eggsy and Harry, the nucleus around which the first film gravitated, seems underdeveloped. Ultimately, Kingsman: The Golden Circle tries to rely on its audience’s memory of the original rather than developing these characters further and, for this reason, will never have the same impact.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is released nationwide on 20th September 2017.
Watch the trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle here: