“Kingsman: The Secret Service,” one of the more fun and fresh action flicks in the past few years, got a sequel this weekend. However, while there’s a lot to like in this part 2, dubbed “The Golden Circle,” it doesn’t live up to the first picture
In this entry, helmed by returning director Matthew Vaughn, the lead character Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is now a full fledged Kingsman and is hard at work in his role with the secret spy organization. Trouble begins to mount, though, when a new enemy emerges in the form of a drug lord named Poppy (Julianne Moore), who manages to find and destroy their headquarters.
As a result, Eggsy, together with the Kingsman tech expert Merlin (Mark Strong), have to travel to the United States to meet with their agency’s American counterpart, Statesman. Together, the spies start a joint effort to take down Poppy before she can complete a plan that would result in the deaths of millions.
“The Golden Circle” has some fantastic moments and is overall an alright product. Yet it does suffer from a few things. First, there are multiple times that it feels like a bit of a retread, to the point where it’s more or less doing what the previous film did. Secondly, the movie, clocking in at 2 hours and 21 minutes, comes is a bit bloated. This is largely due to a sub plot involving the U.S. president.
Expanding on the first issue, the retread came in a few ways. This ranged from the plot structure being quite similar to the villain Poppy being too reminiscent of the antagonist in the first movie.
That’s not to say Julianne Moore doesn’t put a lot in to her performance. She actually gives the main villain quite a bit of charisma. At the same time, though, the character, like Samuel Jackson’s from the original, was too quirky and to an extent had even less motivation for her master plan. It would have been better, in my opinion, to maybe have a more sinister and even more serious villain this time around.
While on the subject of casting, it should also be noted that a few performers playing characters in the Statesman agency don’t have much screen time. This, unfortunately, include Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum who’re sidelined too much.
With that said, the picture does score points with its returning cast, especially with the series bringing back Colin Firth as Harry. Firth was wonderful as the charming super spy in “Secret Service” and he does eventually bring that character back to the film in time, providing for some enjoyment.
Also back of course was Egerton in the lead role and like the last film he provides a good balance of being a wise cracking, witty character while also portraying a suave and sophisticated spy. This time around, the character is wiser and it’s great seeing him work side by side with Harry, rather than being an understudy like the previous installment.
“The Golden Circle” also returned the writers Jane Goodman, as well as Vaughn, who put together a fairly solid script. Like Vaughn’s other films, including the first “Kingsman” and “Kick-Ass,” the dialogue is snappy, funny and doesn’t feel forced.
Another Vaughn staple featured in this sequel were fantastic action sequences. From a shootout in a snowy mountain range to a great hand-to-hand final battle, the action scenes are unique, engaging and shot at a point where you can see everything that’s going on. Vaughn’s action moments are very welcome in a time when many fight scenes are overloaded with quick edits and closeups.
Adding to those action sequences was the film’s soundtrack, with a lot of songs well timed for what’s happening on screen. It matched how the fight was going and made the segments much more entertaining.
“Golden Circle” isn’t on the level of “The Secret Service,” both because it repeats some aspect and for having a runtime that’s too long. Still, this is a fun action comedy to enjoy at the theater. 3.5 out of 5.