Action, action and a little more action. This is my summary after watching Kingsman The Golden Circle. After leaving the cinema I could feel nothing but disappointment, Kingsman The Secret Service had flaws but also the potential for something new and refreshing. Sadly this potential feels wasted after a sequel that panders to all the wrong aspects of the original. How bad is it? Let’s take a look.
The Golden Circle centers around Eggsy, a wisecracking Londoner who joined a secret organization of suit-wearing superheroes. The sequel starts a few years down the line and jumps straight into the action. This event leads to the Kingsman organization being completely wiped out, leaving only Eggsy and tech support Merlin alive. This sets the pair off on an adventure to discover the culprits and take them down. In order to do this, they must join forces with their American cousins the Statesman. Together they will try to bring down The Golden Circle and save the world.
Kingsman is an odd movie to talk about, largely because so much of it feels different to the first. One positive comes from the movies new found obsession with action sequences. These sequences are well choreographed and continually move the plot forward, adding to the excitement. From the moment the film begins we’re thrown into an action-packed car chase where Eggsy must fight an enemy from the back of his black cab. This sets the pace for the rest of the film, with Eggsy and co coming up against enemies at pretty much every location in the world.
The list of cast members is something to be admired, they mostly all perform to a high standard. This list includes Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Chaney Tatum, Pedro Pascal, Hallie Berry, Jeff Bridges and Juliane Moore. All of whom give us the best performance they can, considering the characters they have been given. This is where we see the difference between these two films. In the first Kingsman, the characters had layers, you could relate to them in some cases but this seems to have gone. Turning away from these character choices favoring cartoonish villains and one-dimensional heroes so that they can add more and more action sequences that serve little towards the plot.
This leads me on to the biggest disappointment of the film, the lack of female characters. The first movie made an effort to include some female character, which wasn’t really enough but this film takes a few steps back by actually removing them. This is a spoiler for the movie but warrants discussion as within the first 30 minutes of the film they kill off Roxy (Sophie Cookson) the only female Kingsman agent. Besides Eggsy she is actually the only active agent so the decision seems totally unnecessary and leaves a supporting character role that never gets filled. Considering that the film barely mentions her after this it seems as though they wrote the script and simply forgot to include her, so this is their quick fix.
The only female characters presented in the film are Eggsy’s new partner Tilde, Hallie Berry’s tech-savvy Ginger and Julianne Moore’s Poppy all of whom spend most of the film hiding behind the male characters. Tilde is used as Eggsy’s love interest and nothing more. It becomes apart quickly that she will fill the role of a damsel in distress giving Eggsy a reason to save the world, which is completely unnecessary. Hallie Berry’s character is the tech support for the Statesman, she makes sure that her male agents have everything they need but she has a longing to be a field agent. This was an opportunity for the film to step it up and include a strong female character in the action but nothing comes of it. They fail to show off her skills or put her in a situation where she can prove herself, making her desire to be a field agent completely redundant.
The last female character is Julianna Moore’s Poppy, who is the main antagonist of the movie. She runs a drug trade selling every assortment of drugs on the market but she is full of resentment that she must remain away from the public. To this end, she enacts a plan to bring herself into the spotlight by ransoming the world. This has the potential for an interesting plot and a diverse villain, but it all becomes muddled behind cheap gags, lots of fighting and that celebrity cameo. The entire film falls flat without the real sense of danger, all the fight scenes and car chases seem redundant without a real threat. They put a lot of effort into making her silly but they should’ve made Poppy dangerous, this would’ve given so much more weight to a situation and given them a reason behind heroes actions. Julianne Moore’s performance is good but with the limitations of this character, it feels like she tries to bring something interesting to a role that could have been removed from the film. Continuing on my last point Poppy is surrounded by men who do all her wor
They put a lot of effort into making her silly but they should’ve made Poppy dangerous, this would’ve given so much more weight to the situation and given them a reason behind heroes actions. Julianne Moore’s performance is good but with the limitations of this character, it feels like she tries to bring something interesting to a role that could have been removed from the film. Continuing on my last point Poppy is surrounded by men who do all her work for her. Through the film she never lifts a finger, ordering her men to kill one another or setting her robot hounds on people, she is more or less useless without her minions. If they had given her a bit more a punch they could’ve given more weight to the threat and make themselves a memorable villain. Considering half the character use gadgets or enchantments to fight it wouldn’t have been hard to transform this villain from an obstacle to a true threat.
Even with these examples, the film is pretty terrible but there was something else from this film that perfectly highlights its failings, that is, of course, the Elton John’s cameos. The first time we see John he is being forced to play the piano for Poppy and the scene is lighthearted but not really funny, this would’ve been enough of Elton in the film but the film seems to be unable to leave the gag alone. Elton appears in around 8 scenes all of, which would be improved with his absence. A particular scene I have in mind leads up to the climax, Eggsy and co are storming the villain’s hideout in a big display of Action and gunfire but while this is happening Elton John for some reason is also fighting some bad guys as he breaks free. The two scenes completely repel one another, one is a slow fight scene between three characters, the other being a massive set piece with a lot of action. This whole character takes away from the film and makes everything feel silly but in a clumsy childish way not a humorous way. This moment shows off exactly what is wrong with this film and many other sequels in big blockbusters, too much action and jokes that never land with an audience.
Kingsman The Golden Circle is a flawed film, the themes and plot are lost behind silly gags and giant set pieces that serve no purpose and are frankly unfunny. While the fight sequences are strong everything around them lacks stakes. The characters are seemingly one-dimensional and are simply used to prop up Eggsy who is pretty much in every scene. Like most sequels Kingsman ups the scale of the film bigger locations, bigger action and a bigger cast but forgets to include anything else. It seems as though Matthew Vaughn was hoping you would be so memorized by the action and big stars that you wouldn’t notice that the script had no substance or heart. The Golden Circle should be a guide to all filmmakers on how not to make a movie. A promising franchise that turned into a generic and forgettable sequel I would recommend not wasting your time and avoid this one.