Sunday, September 24, 2017

'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' Is Fun and Stylish, but Doesn't Measure Up to the First Movie

Kingsman: The Secret Service was a delightful surprise in 2015.  Coming into it, I didn’t expect it to be that so much fun with its over-the-top take on the old-school gentleman spy genre as established by James Bond.  Hence, I was greatly looking forward to its sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle.  Unfortunately, it’s not nearly as fresh and enjoyable.  Bummer.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle picks up about a year after the events of the first movie.  Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is now carrying the “Galahad” codename, and is now in a relationship with the Swedish Crown Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström).  While he’s dining with the princess and her parents, the criminal organization called “The Golden Circle”, led by Poppy Adams, sends out missiles to destroy every Kingsman establishment, annihilating all agents, except for Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong).  Without any resources, the two proceed to seek the aid of Statesman, the Kingsman’s counterpart in America, in order to stop Poppy and save the millions around the world that she infected with a deadly toxin and held hostage.  But before they can deal with it, they first make a shocking discovery: the original Galahad, Harry Hart (Colin Firth), is alive!
The Golden Circle still has a lot of fun things going for it.  The humor and quirkiness are still strong.  The visuals are extremely appealing and stylish, both in cinematography aesthetics and action sequences.  And everyone in the cast – augmented by newcomers Pedro Pascal, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, and Jeff Bridges, who are playing Statesman agents – delivered great performances.

The script, however, isn’t as smart and engaging as that of the first movie.  It’s bogged down by several subplots, which makes the narrative a tad boring at times.  In addition to that, this film has a noticeable Gazelle-void; Poppy is an okay antagonist, but not striking at all, and as the cliché goes, “The story is only as strong as its antagonist.”

Just like in the first one, my favorite thing about this movie is Colin Firth.  He really has the features of a perfect gentleman spy.  Unfortunately, though he had his moments, I felt he was underused here.  Actually, in my review of the first movie, the only thing I thought would improve it is making Harry Hart the central character.  That notion is also my stand with this movie.  However, since that is something impossible at this point, I would have been fine if, at the very least, he had the same amount of significant presence to the plot as he had in the first movie.  But that won’t be the case.  Also, this movie has nothing comparable to the spectacular “church shootout” scene.  Bummer.
Another thing I didn’t like about this movie is that the trailers already showed the film’s most exciting moments and most important story points, in parts or in full.  We knew that Colin Firth is returning in this film, but a gratifying sense of surprise would have been provided if he wasn’t shown in the trailers and promo photos at all.  This is also true with giving out the detail of the Kingsman being wiped out; this could have been a real shocker.  And, seriously, I would have loved the action scenes and gadgets more if I hadn’t been aware of any details regarding them – because, again, the trailers already showed their “money shots.”

Lastly, on a side note, Elton John playing a role in this movie doesn’t work for me.  It’s not because I don’t like the creep (though I like his musical contribution to the Lion King and The Road to El Dorado).  I actually did laugh on some of the gags centered on him.  But there’s something self-indulgent and dumb about his participation that doesn’t fit with the overall feel of the movie.
In the end, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a disappointment.  Not that it’s bad.  Again, it’s still pretty fun.  But because of the highs set by the first film, I was expecting this movie to reach the same.  Which it didn’t.  Bummer.

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