Posted by: Jo Hyde
Date: September 21, 2017

SYNOPSIS: Kingsman: The Secret Service introduced the world to Kingsman - an independent, international intelligence agency operating at the highest level of discretion, whose ultimate goal is to keep the world safe. In Kingsman: The Golden Circle, our heroes face a new challenge. When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, their journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US called Statesman, dating back to the day they were both founded. In a new adventure that tests their agents' strength and wits to the limit, these two elite secret organizations band together to defeat a ruthless common enemy, in order to save the world, something that's becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy.

Matthew Vaughn, director of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, gives his audience another over-the-top, semi-spoofy, spy adventure.

The 2014 film -- Kingsman: The Secret Service -- had humor along with its action, but it had a certain darkness to it. Surprisingly, the best actor in it, Colin Firth, had his character Harry Hart unceremoniously killed off, an action that was not popular with fans. The current sequel goes more with silliness, especially with the resurrection of Harry Hart. If you were surprised to see Colin Firth’s name in the credits, you’ll be equally surprised at the way he returns to the film. He’s still the best actor in it!

You may recall that all the Kingsman agents had code names taken from King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. This time around, the Saville Row tailor shop that hides the Kingsman headquarters is destroyed as are all the agents, with the exception of Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong). The search for the identity of the leader of The Golden Circle, the mysterious organization behind the attack, leads Eggsy and Merlin to the Statesman Distillery in Kentucky, which turns out to be the front for the American version of Kingsman. Despite being in Kentucky, the agents look like Texas cowboys, and everything is western-themed. The first agent they meet is Tequila (Channing Tatum) – yes, they are all named for liquors. Then comes Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), who’s a demon with a whip and quick-draw. Finally, they are allowed into the hidden headquarters where they meet the man in charge, Champagne (Jeff Bridges). He prefers to go by Champ.

A bright spot in this hodgepodge of a story is Halle Berry, who plays Ginger, the American equivalent of Merlin. She reunites Eggsy and Merlin with Harry, whom they have incredulously saved, but who suffers from amnesia. The film’s pace suffers during the detour to restore Harry’s memory and work him back into the plot.

Meanwhile, Julianne Moore, hamming it up as Poppy, the psychopathic villainess CEO of The Golden Circle, releases a video informing the world leaders that she is holding the entire world hostage until all drugs are legalized so she can leave her hiding place in the jungles of Cambodia and receive the recognition she feels she deserves for creating the largest drug cartel in the world. Her leverage is that she has infected all the illegal drugs in the world with a virus that manifests with a blue rash and eventually causes death. Only she has the antidote which will be released by drone when her demand is met. Ridiculous? Absolutely. Tequila is one of the affected victims, so Channing Tatum really has very little screen time even though he shares top billing with the leads.

Eggsy, Merlin, and Whiskey set out to find Poppy and force her to give them the formula for the antidote. She’s holed up in her pink, 1950’s style compound in the jungle, along with her henchmen, headed up by Kingsman drop-out Charlie (Edward Holcroft). Charlie now has a prosthetic, weaponized arm, an unfaithful, skanky girlfriend Clara (Poppy Delevigne), and a grudge against Eggsy. Poppy also controls a couple of lethal robotic dogs, and is holding Elton John (yes, the real Elton John) hostage. I have no idea why Elton John would agree to act is such a muddle of a film, but there he is in some of his more outrageous 1980’s costumes.

The rest of the wandering story line deals with the heroes trying to capture Poppy, find the antidote, and destroy her drug empire. Along the way there will be double-crosses, messy gross-out effects, and, of course, not everyone will make it out alive.

So how does a film with such a stellar cast go so wrong? First, it takes much too long to get to the real story. Also, there’s no chemistry between Eggsy and his girlfriend Princess Tilde (Hanna Alstrom), and his love for her is supposed to be a motivating factor. There’s also a really offensive sex scene between Eggsy and Clara which sort of advances the plot but feels so incredibly icky that you’ll wish the writers could have come up with something a little less cringe-worthy.

The 2014 film had the advantage of taking the audience through Eggsy’s back story which made him much more appealing as a character. The actors in that film seemed to be having a good time relaying the equally outrageous story, and the narrative was much tighter. The actors in the current film almost seem embarrassed with what they’re asked to do.

There are a few bright spots. Halle Berry shines in a de-glamorized, purposefully-nerdy role. Of course, she still manages to look anything but nerdy. And, let’s face it. Any words coming out of Colin Firth’s mouth, no matter how ridiculous, sound resplendent! - Jo Hyde


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