As any fan of the 2014 original film would agree, the “Kingsman” film franchise is noteworthy for its inventive action sequences, sophisticated humor and well-established chemistry between its stars, Taron Egerton and Colin Firth. “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is only able to deliver two out of the three elements for this successful mission, but still delivers an entertaining and original spy flick.
The film, directed by Matthew Vaughn and sequel to 2014’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” continues the adventures of Eggsy (Taron Egerton) as he adjusts to his newfound career after the loss of his mentor, Harry (Colin Firth), as a member of the Kingsman — an elite British spy organization. As a new threat emerges and their headquarters is destroyed, the Kingsman must travel across the pond and team up with their American equivalents, the Statesmen. This “All-American” organization consists of Tequila (Channing Tatum), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) as they combine their efforts with the Kingsman to stop a deranged drug dealer, Poppy (Julianne Moore), from taking the world hostage through biological warfare.
The inclusion of the Statesmen in this film is truly a credit to the creative team’s ability to reinvigorate this franchise with inventive humor. Vaughn’s interpretation of U.S. culture is fresh, hilarious and provides a much-needed touch of patriotism for American audiences. Pedro Pascal, of “Game of Thrones” fame and currently starring on Netflix’s “Narcos,” steals the show as a wise-cracking American spy that makes you question whether a lasso would indeed be a more useful weapon of choice than a handgun. The other Statesmen, primarily Tatum and Berry, are not given much material to work with. Hopefully they are being saved for more exciting roles in a next installment. Additional comedic aspects of the film are provided by a surprising celebrity cameo and plenty of inappropriate moments that you will not believe you are watching on screen. The inclusion of Julianne Moore’s Poppy attempts to add a twisted and dark humor to the film, but the shadow of Samuel L. Jackson’s villainous portrayal from the first film looms over her uninspired performance.
Regardless of the abundance of new characters being introduced, Egerton and Firth remain the heart and soul of the franchise. Unfortunately, the screenwriters, Vaughn and his frequent writing partner, Jane Goldman, don’t seem to understand the importance of the characters’ relationship. After Harry’s resurrection, revealed to us in the first trailer, the duo is never given the chance to remind us of their father-son dynamic. Instead, they are sidelined to focus on a romantic subplot between Eggsy and his new girlfriend, which is considerably less compelling of a relationship. Egerton and Firth still manage to give charismatic and vulnerable performances with the material that they are given; however, don’t expect to feel emotionally invested in their relationship.
The film compensates for its narrative flaws with some of the most inventive action sequences of modern cinema. Vaughn has had quite a bit of practice with big budget action films in the past, including “Kick-Ass” and “X-Men: First Class,” but this film is his most impressive display of action filmmaking. Vaughn’s decision to have the camera follow each character’s overdramatic punch, kick or lasso from inception to contact gives the fight choreography a sense of hyper-realism that is undeniably entertaining. Inspiring American song choices from the 1970’s mixed with recognizable, cartoonish sound design also contribute to the humor and fun of the fight sequences.
Although “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” sacrificed some desired character development for the sake of inventive action sequences, Vaughn succeeds at the latter so well that the film is still worth the price of admission. Fans of the original film will definitely be entertained with the continuation of Eggsy’s story, and new audiences of the franchise should be excited to experience the future of action filmmaking going forward.