The mission of 2015’s enjoyable Kingsman: The Secret Service was to wobble wildly on the line between action and farce.
The 400-Word Review - Kingsman: The Golden Circle
By Sean Collier
September 25, 2017
Matthew Vaughn’s film, adapted from the comic book by Mark Millar, had moments of ridiculous, over-the-top silliness and moments of legitimate espionage thrills. It was what the Bond franchise might’ve become without its gritty re-imagining; if the ramped-up style and technological whatnot of the Pierce Brosnan Bond flicks had continued on its path for another two decades, the modern 007 vehicles would probably look a lot like the first Kingsman movie.
Audiences, however, responded more to the chaos than the style in The Secret Service. The madcap, ultraviolent melee in a revivalist church stood as that film’s most (some would say only) truly memorable sequence. So the sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, shoves itself fully onto the side of the farcical, with stakes removed and ridiculousness — from bodies tossed in meat-grinders to robotic canines trained to kill everyone but Elton John — turned up to 11.
After saving the world in the first picture, Galahad (Taron Egerton) is a respected and busy member of the clandestine intelligence agency hidden inside a high-end tailor’s shop. An opening brawl inside a luxury car doesn’t seem like much more than a convenient opening volley, but it quickly turns out that the anonymous thug from that attack had larger plans — namely, eliminating the vast majority of Kingsman agents, which is achieved rather early in the film’s massive runtime.
Much of the plot involves stunt casting and ludicrous twists, so I won’t dwell on the details much longer; the body of the action involves a move to visit a sister organization in the New World (appropriately dubbed the Statesmen) and a foray into a jungle hideout.
Egerton, despite a case of chronic babyface, is emerging as a somewhat reliable star; he carries the film well enough, buoyed by a hamming cast of gleefully slumming Oscar winners. And while Vaughn needs some help trimming the fat from his films, his action sequences are frenetic, slapstick delights.
The Golden Circle seems to struggle under its own weight in the early going, but I think it actually is dragging the audience towards a place of hysterical acceptance. Sequences and characters will provoke eye-rolls, to be sure, but those serve mainly to get you ready for more madness later. It’s ridiculous, but it’s a ton of fun.
My Rating: 7/10
Sean Collier is the Associate Editor of Pittsburgh Magazine and a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read more from Sean at pittsburghmagazine.com/afterdark