The Kingsman: Golden Circle was one of the best times I had at movies all year long. The movie is over the top, frenetic, and at times funny as hell. If you asked me, and the studio did, I would have said it’s one of my favorite films of 2017. Damn being a critic, I had to think about it for a few days before writing my review and the issues that I had with the movie kind of sucks away some of my, from the gut, enjoyment of it. Long story short, go see it and enjoy it for what it is – a fun, bombastic take on the spy movie genre. If you want to nitpick it to death, read on.
Ever since Stardust and Kick-Ass, Director Matthew Vaughn can do no wrong in my book. Ok he Produced Fantastic Four, but I’ll give him a pass. Every great artist is allowed a failure or two. Last year’s Kingsman: The Secret Service showed the world that spy movies no longer have to be all dour and boring like the turgent Daniel Craig Bond movies. Oh Bond, a great franchise ruined by an over inflated sense of self-importance. No Kingsman: The Secret Service was like screw that noise, it’s ok for spy movies to be fun again.
I was honestly surprised to see that a sequel was being made for this and I wish the trailers didn’t give away the movie’s “twist.” The idea that there is a US version of the Kingsman isn’t necessarily a “twist” but it would have been a lot cooler to see it revealed in the theater.
My biggest problem with the entire movie is that from the moment we meet Tequila and the Statesmen, the movie stops being Kingsman: The Golden Circle and becomes “Statesman: The Golden Circle,” or more like Team America: World Peace. I kept wanting to yell “’Merica!” The Kingsmen basically end up being second fiddle and second best to the Statesmen. At every turn we’re shown over and over again how much better the Statesmen are to our beloved Kingsmen. They have better gadgets, are better fighters and have a lot more resources at their disposal.
Channing Tatum is clearly having a fun playing the over the top American, Agent Tequila. He’s chewing scenery like no one’s business and surprisingly enough he’s only in the movie for about 10 minutes, but he leaves such a large presence and overshadows our main hero Eggsy (Taron Egerton). From Pedro Pascal (Whiskey) to Moore, everyone in this film has more on camera presence and charisma than Egerton. The producers may be making a mistake with this franchise be surrounding Egerton with so many bigger name stars.
A running gag in the movie is the Kingsmen are funded by their tailor shops while the Statesmen Kentucky Bourbon business is worth billions. Now the comparison is made even more stark by the fact that thanks to the traitor Charlie (Edward Holcroft), their entire organization has been leveled to the ground by Poppy (Julianne Moore) an exiled American Drug Kingpen. Moore is wonderful while you watch the movie, but if you take any time to think about her role and her performance, she doesn’t do much of in this movie. Her character just isn’t as fully fleshed out or splashy as Jackson’s Character.
There’s a lot of subtle and not so subtle jabs at Trump’s America that are funny and again over the top. Yes, if you are a critic it’s ham fisted and poorly acted. But the film knows its campy and doesn’t try to hide this fact. If the style of the hyper active action and the celebrity guest star didn’t clue you in earlier that this film was going to go in the direction it did, then nothing would.
In more American symbolism Poppy’s secret “lair” is an homage to old school small town America complete with an old-fashioned theater, salon and diner that she spends 90% of her screen time in. I kept thinking at some point we’d see more of her secret headquarters or larger organization, but nope. It appears to be just this simple empty dinner. The movie seemed weirdly cheap, a lot of the sets were very plain, the cast was also pretty small and the action sequences not as ambitious as they were in the original.
As I said at the start of this review see this film with an audience and just go with the flow. You’ll have a great time as long as you don’t have to think too much about what you are watching.
Final Grade A-
Ed’s Note – I purposely left off some of the actors because this is a spoiler free review.