Kingsman: The Golden Circle is an excellent example of how to make a sequel. Now, I personally prefer the first film to this sequel but that isn’t a knock by any means. Kingsman: The Golden Circle took what was great about the original and added on. It took the spy/action comedy and added on. Where Kingsman: The Secret Service was about a young man discovering himself, The Golden Circle gives us a very grown up Eggsy who knows what he wants with life. Further, the film gives us more action, a believable villain and even more spies and gadgets to work with. In this way, it does what a good sequel needs to.
To be honest, I can’t exactly pin point why I think the original is better but it has a lot to do with the villain and the underutilized of the Statesman. From the trailers, I thought the Statesman were going to be terrible. I was extremely skeptical other than thinking that they looked like they were pretty good in a fight. I was right about the second part and wrong to doubt them. The Statesman were well executed and made a great addition to this world. I still hate that they are named after alcohol but it makes sense considering their cover is as a brewery.
As context, the film is about the Kingsman being attacked to where their headquarters is destroyed and organization in shambles. The damage is so great that they must turn to the Statesman which are essentially the American version of the Kingsman. Without diving too deep into story, the two organizations must work together to take down the Golden Circle and their leader Poppy (Julianne Moore).
Earlier in this writing, I stated that this film was less appealing than the first due to the villain and lack of Statesman. Starting with the Statesman, one of the biggest disappointments comes in Channing Tatum’s agent Tequila and how little he is actually in the film. His character is on posters and was marketed heavily (see below) so, imagine my dismay when he was barely used. Granted, marketing is meant to make viewers want to see a movie but, if you want to see Tatum, you will be let down. The great news is that what little time he gets is wonderful. Tatum is a hit and miss kind of actor with me and I wasn’t particularly on board with him entering one of my favorite universes but he did a fantastic job and I hope he is featured more in the sequel should their be one.
The other Statesman were Jeff Bridges’ Agent Champagne, the Arthur of the group, Agent Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Agent Ginger (Halle Berry) who was the Merlin counterpart. Berry’s character and performance didn’t grip me. I thought her character and acting were bland and uninteresting. Merlin is a far better “tech guy” and much more like-able character. Bridges’ Champagne was fine. I didn’t particularly like or dislike the character and he got about as much screen time and I would have expected based on his Statesman role. Pedro Pascal, on the other hand, was the most featured Statesman by far as he fights alongside the Kingsman throughout the film. His character, Agent Whiskey, was a joy to watch. Pascal and Egerton worked well together and had great chemistry. I loved watching them interact and I loved watching Agent Whiskey get to work with his whip and rope. He had some truly epic action moments.
As for the villain, Julianne Moore’s Poppy was honestly great but Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine was better. Valentine was completely wrong with his plan for reducing the population however there were noble intentions and some great interactions between he and the Kingsman, especially Harry. Poppy’s motivations are fine, but she is clearly psychotic. This isn’t particularly bad. In fact, it’s great but a sequel will always be compared to its origin and the origin had the better villain. Moore did a great job in her performance as a deranged but highly successful drug lord. There are moments in the film that make her legitimately frightening and Moore executed those moments excellently.
Further to the villain is Poppy’s right hand man. I don’t want to dive too deep into this because of spoilers but her right hand man is great. He is threatening and has character development whereas Gazelle from the original did not. Eggsy and this villain have some great scenes and epic fights that lead to massive entertainment.
An area that shined brightly was the acting and chemistry between Merlin, Harry and Eggsy. These three actors work exceptionally well together and it was great fun to see them back together. At the opening of the film, before Harry is introduced into the plot, Eggsy is attacked and Merlin must guide him through the streets of London to safety. This opening scene started off the film just right. I found myself full of adrenaline and excitement as I watched an amazing opening to a spy film. It had its lead engaging in gun and fist to fist combat, car chases, expert driving, gadgets and more. This scene set the stage for a great film and interestingly wasn’t the only high note.
The film is riddled with action in just the right places. Just when I had enough dialogue and story, action ensued. Even greater is that the action was as far-fetched, if not more, than the original. Eggsy and co encounter some outrageous scenarios and manage to make it out far better than could ever be expected. Since the film is about a secret spy organization, these over the top sequences are, not only expected, but add to the feel of the film. The pacing throughout the film was excellent and had me on the edge of my seat.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle tells the tale of an organization in shambles that must turn to an unknown group for help and save the world. It’s not an entirely original story but that doesn’t mean it isn’t great. In fact, I’d say it is what makes it great! The story tells us a secret criminal group, The Golden Circle, and the plot of its leader Poppy which I won’t reveal due to spoilers. The motivations of the villain may not have been the best of any film but Poppy is not to be taken lightly. She is meticulous, resourceful and had a great right hand man. As much as I liked the blade legged Gazelle, Poppy’s second in command was much better developed and a massive threat to Eggsy and co. The action, gadgets and set pieces are everything I want to see in a spy movie. I cannot wait to see more from this franchise should it do well enough to get a third entry. That said, go see this movie and help it get the love it deserves. The Kingsman agents are outstanding spies that rivals if not exceeds the wonder of Jason Bourne and James Bond.
4 out of 5 Couch Cushions!
For more on Kingsman, check out Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service