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Film Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service became a surprise hit in 2014, acting as a breath of fresh air into the stale spy genre.

Credit: Cinema Vine

 Now its hotly anticipated sequel, The Golden Circle, follows firmly in the footsteps of its predecessor, for better and worse, whilst expanding Vaughn’s eccentric spy universe.

The film follows Eggsy (Taron Egerton) as he continues his life as a Kingsman agent whilst maintaining a relationship with Princess Tilde (Hannah Alström) whom he rescued in the previous film. After Eggsy is attacked by a previous foe, and a huge assault is carried out on the Kingsman almost wiping the organisation out, he and the remaining members must travel across the pond to seek the help of the Statesman, their American counterpart. With the two organisations collaborating, Eggsy, in partnership with Agent Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), aims to find and destroy the mysterious crime group known as ‘The Golden Circle’, which is led by the highly unstable Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore).

In terms of its plot, The Golden Circle is a great sequel. Everything about the film is bigger than the first with the lore being built upon, more locations being visited, a vast array of likeable characters being introduced and a real step up in terms of action and excitement. The church set piece from the first movie is the real standout for many people and with The Golden Circle, we are treated to two or three more sequences that are just as impressive. The introduction of the Statesman is also welcome and comes with some creative new tropes that mirror the first film such as baseballs for grenades and electrified lassos as weapons. 

However, for all the expansion of the universe that we see, little is done in terms of character. With the exception of Agent Whiskey, played excellently by Pedro Pascal, we see very little development of the film’s key players, particularly those newly introduced. Julianne Moore’s Poppy, for example, is just as twisted and charismatic as Samuel L. Jackson’s Richmond Valentine in the first film, but she lacks the character motivations and screen time to make her compelling enough a villain. The same can be said for Channing Tatum’s Agent Tequilla along with the majority of new characters introduced; the performances are all great, there’s just so little to see of them that their characters feel wasted.

Taron Egerton is great once again as Eggsy, as are Mark Strong and Colin Firth in their returning roles. Egerton brings the same humour and charm that he had in the first film whilst Strong takes his character of Merlin in a new, more humorous direction. This partly contributes to the film being quite funny for the most part. The biggest laughs come from the culture clash between the Kingsman and the Statesman and from the same kind of crude humour that was present in the previous film.

However, while most of the humour lands, the jokes revolving around Elton John really knock the film towards the end. The singer’s first few appearance make for some really funny moments, but as it continues throughout, he really begins to outstay his welcome. Particularly during the final action sequence, constant cuts back to John distract from what is otherwise a great scene and will leave audiences frustrated at his appearances breaking the flow of the film.

Coming in at around two hours and twenty minutes, the film does drag at times and it feels like a fair chunk of it could have been cut down. The plot convolutes itself a bit in the middle of the film, which leads to a couple of sequences, including one at Glastonbury, that feel a little unnecessary. It would have largely benefitted the film if scenes like this had given way for more time to develop the film’s key characters.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is an entertaining spy film for sure, with its great cast and light-hearted tone making it an enjoyable sequel. However, its lack of focus both on its characters and story at times means it doesn’t quite live up to expectations.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is out now, distributed by 20th Century Fox.

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