In 2014 audiences were introduced to Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin played by relative newcomer Taron Edgerton in Kingsman: The Secret Service. The story was of an undisciplined young man with incredible potential that was tutored to greatness by super spy Harry Hart played by British heartthrob Colin Firth. Kingsman: The Secret Service was an outstanding success with its stylistic action, memorable characters, a thumping score, and its homage to the spy stories of yesteryear. In 2017 we return to the world of Eggsy as he continues his career as a super spy in Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle opens up with our young hero Eggsy (Edgerton) a full-fledged member of the Kingsman taking the place of his mentor Harry (Firth). It’s not long however before he is accosted by an old enemy and things go from bad to chaotic and audiences are treated to an incredible action sequence through the streets of London. After dealing with the issue Eggsy heads off to celebrate with his girlfriend Tilde (the princess he saved in the previous outing) and his friends. Unbeknownst to him, sinister forces are at work and it’s not long before Kingsman is brought to its knee’s within one night. After meeting with Merlin (Mark Strong) the two realise that they need to find out who did this to them and with the only clue being rumours of a “Golden Circle” they utilise the “Doomsday Protocol” which brings them to Kentucky where yet another secret agency dubbed the “Statesman” resides. After meeting with agent Tequila (Channing Tatum), Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Champagne (Jeff Bridges) Eggsy heads out to find the source of the destruction of Kingsman and the rise of a virus that is beginning to affect the world.
It here that I will introduce 1, The villain of Kingsman: The Golden Circle and 2, the biggest issue with the film Poppy Adams played by Julianne Moore who gives a performance that can be best described as bubble gum psycho. Poppy Adams is a woman who wishes to be acknowledged for her incredible business acumen which is centred around drugs. She’s a hot mess of a villain with zero charm or threat to her name and she is part of some of the most ridiculous scenes in the film. Several of them involving Elton John and robot dogs (you read that correctly) and ultimately she came across as the most paint by numbers element of the film. There is nothing original, fun or even sinister about her and it’s a shame since Samuel L. Jackson was so vibrant as megalomaniac entrepreneur Richmond Valentine.
Poppy sadly isn’t the only character that left a less than stellar impression, Channing Tatum’s agent Tequila is nothing but a cameo as he’s in the film for a surprisingly limited time, Halle Berry’s Ginger Ale is pointless with a storyline that felt like it could have been filled by any actress looking to stand out in a male-dominated story. She’s given nothing to work with and her presence just shines a spotlight on the wasted potential this is compounded with Jeff Bridges Champagne who mumbles his way through his limited screen time. All these roles felt like guest star appearances you would see on an episode of Saturday Night Live and when it came to the point where I expected Johnny Depp to appear as agent Rum I knew the agency known as the Statesman had lost any legitimacy. The only saving grace was Pedro Pascal’s agent Whiskey who was given a semblance of a backstory and scenes that allowed him to outshine even Eggsy.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle does, however, shine in other areas that matter and this is all due to the return of Harry (Firth). Firth brings with him the heart of the first film and his chemistry with Edgerton has not dulled and this translates into the action scenes as the two of them are a dangerous duo. All this action is superbly framed by Matthew Vaughn who gives the action scenes a vibrant and kinetic energy that is surprisingly easy to follow. Another nice touch that adds to the fun of Kingsman: The Golden Circle is how the franchise leans even further into loving homage to the Bond films. The latest additions include an underwater car and the fact that Eggsy now has an arch nemesis in the style of Jaws.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle for all the good and the bad ultimately boils down to one question, did you like the first film? If you did you may be disappointed by this film but you’ll still have a good time, however, if you did not like Kingsman: The Secret Service then Kingsman: The Golden Circle will not win you over.