he first "Kingsman" movie looked terrible. I would have guaranteed that it was going to be a brain dead and facile recreation of the tropes that made the James Bond franchise a success. In truth, it was an action packed and hilarious spy thriller that actually ended up being better than Bond's newest adventure, "Spectre." The film even managed to make Colin Firth an action hero, which I didn't think was possible.
The movie was a huge hit, and here we are, two years later, with a sequel that attempts to expand the universe while also throwing every single idea at the wall... praying that something sticks. "Kingsman: The Golden Circle" is still pretty fun, but it's plagued by the problems the original so deftly side-stepped.
We pick up a year after "The Secret Service," when Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is officially a Kingsman working with Merlin (Mark Strong) and Roxy (Sophie Cookson) to save the world. Their villain is Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), a drug kingpin who lives on her own secret South American island designed to look like a small town in the 1950s. Her plan is to give a virus to everyone who consumes her weed, cocaine and other stuff—killing millions—unless the U.S. President cancels the war on drugs and gives her immunity.
This is a movie featuring deadly robotic dogs, Julianne Moore doing her best Sarah Palin impression, Channing Tatum dancing like a goober and Elton John kicking someone in the face with platform shoes. There's also kung-fu, assassins with cyborg arms and Pedro Pascal, (Oberyn Martell from "Game of Thrones,") chopping someone in half with a lasso. If that sounds stupid to you, then it will be, but if it sounds like it's worth your cash then embrace the absolute ridiculousness of the entire thing. There are no half measures here.
Sadly, the movie also seems to be misogynistic, which could either be the ignorance of the filmmakers or a statement about the sexism inherent in spy movies. If it's a statement, they should have made a legitimate one instead of making all the female characters one-dimensional constructs that only exist as plot devices. Roxy, who almost stole the first film by being a more capable and badass Kingsman than Eggsy, is killed off in the first 15 minutes of the sequel with no fanfare or purpose. It's very disappointing.
"The Golden Circle" also clocks in around 141 minutes—punishingly long for an action/comedy. This isn't "Schindler's List." I understand the excitement of developing the universe of your movie, but it undercuts character, pacing, tone and rhythm when the film is constantly stopping to expand on something that ultimately doesn't matter in the slightest.
The film is still entertaining and carries a few jaw-dropping action sequences, but it lacks the same charm and originality of the last one. If you hated "The Secret Service," this won't win you over (unless you're a die-hard Colin Firth or Channing Tatum completist). It's the "Transformers" of spy movies; not because of the robots, but because, underneath all the sound and fury, there's only a hollow space where the heart should have been.
Kingman: The Golden Circle
Dir. Matthew Vaughn
Old Mill Stadium 16 & IMAX, Sisters Movie House, Redmond Cinema