Kingsman: The Golden Circle is described as a “spy-spoof” movie and I think that’s horribly unjustified and unfair. The Golden Circle is quite simply too good to be tarred with that brush. Comparing it to movies like Spyhard and I-Spy is quite simply ridiculous, those movies are homeless men vomiting onto the immaculately well-tailored shoes of the Kingsman titles.
Sure, they draw heavily from Sir Ian Flemming’s James Bond aesthetic with the suave immaculately dressed action hero spy and then they add a healthy dose of humour, but the Kingsman movies don’t take themselves seriously and to be honest, why would you want them to? There are aspects that are very “spoof-like”, definitely, but The Golden Circle (and its predecessor) is more refined than that. It’s a class above the shitty slapstick and toilet humour (no pun intended), okay it has its moments BUT they always serve a purpose rather than feeling tacked on just for the sake of it.
Other “spoof” titles all feature similar actors and some pretty god-awful writing and let’s be honest, you wouldn’t associate Colin Firth -Mr. Darcy of all people- with low-brow humour and terrible writing. So that’s the last time I’m going to use the term “spoof” in this review.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is as good if not better than its predecessor. Julianne Moore plays a fantastic villain! I’ve loved her ever since seeing Evolution so many years ago, and seeing her play a villain is a nice change in my mind. Her performance as Poppy is absolutely brilliant from the moment she’s introduced. Her sweet and innocent demeanour make her impossible to dislike even though you KNOW she’s the bad guy behind everything, she is the ruthless leader of the world’s largest drug cartel after all. She’s the perfect blend of psycho and lovable that make her such a great character, I mean she has a pair of robot dogs and kidnapped Sir Elton John…So that tells you all you need to know! There isn’t a “bad” scene in the movie, it’s great from start to finish, but Poppy’s scenes are amongst the best.
Of course the returning cast are as brilliant as they were before, Eggsy continuing to walk both sides of the line between upper-class super spy and degenerate street youth despite being in a serious relationship with Princess Tilde. Without doubt the most welcome surprise of the movie is when Eggsy comes home to find her sat at the dinner table waiting for him. I love the fact that they brought back what everyone thought would be a one time thing and turned it into something serious, as serious as this movie gets at least.
The Golden Circle also sees the return of the unique style of action scenes pioneered by its predecessor. I often find slow-mo to be kind of obnoxious and think it’s a cheap way to add drama or attempt to enhance a scene in some way. It’s often applied in the wrong places or applied for slightly too long and I’m happy to say that’s not an issue here. The blend of fast paced brutal fighting and occasional slow-mo moments are actually kind of elegant. They highlight the best moments of the scene perfectly without detracting from the pace at all, merely drawing your attention to something awesome then casually sending you on your way to continue watching. Naturally the fight choregraphy is brilliant and the co-ordination and composition of the shoot-outs are equally as brilliant.
Watching Harry and Eggsy fight alongside each other is awesome and then they split off into their own individual encounters, balancing the screentime between them nicely. It allows you to see what both characters are capable of on their own and shows just how bloody good they are at their jobs. Harry Hart didn’t save the world all those times before on just dashing good looks and charm, even with one eye he’s a formidable fighting force to be reckoned with.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle juggles and balances its components expertly. It’s funny but not overwhelmingly so, you’re still able to enjoy the plot of the movie without a joke being cracked every 12 seconds just for the sake of it. The plot itself is actually really quite robust, tackling the topic of legalising controlled substances in the US while giving it that charming sense of humour. No-one’s likely to use the movie as an argument for legalisation or anything but it at least makes you aware that it’s a debate going on across the globe. I don’t want to be THAT guy and I don’t think Kingsman is some kind of political message but you’d be a fool not to notice the link. It’s not ALL about that, sure it’s the focus of the story but not in that way.
On paper the soundtrack seems pretty outlandish and weird, a mix of genres and tracks you would find on some random mix tape that got buried years ago, but it works. Its composed of a combination of classics ranging from Frank Sinatra to ZZ Top that sounds insane but within the context of the movie they fit perfectly. Obviously John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” features and is the only way to introduce the Kingsmen’s American cousins, The Statesman.
The Statesman are a little more rustic it seems, having become whiskey brewers in Kentucky rather than tailors in London. I mean, Champagne, played by Jeff Bridges, is introduced while he’s chewing tobacco and spits some into a bucket as Eggsy and Merlin walk in. Their gadgets get a similarly farm-handy feel what with them being an electrified lasso/whip and six shooters that can fire more than six shots before reloading. Best of all, something wholeheartedly American, is the built-in Stars and Stripes parachute. I’m not saying they are perfect but they’re pretty damn close!
The Statesman do feel a little under utilised really. Despite having Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry and Pedro Pascal on side, they don’t seem to get all that much to do really. Whiskey (Pascal) gets a couple of great sequences, including the iconic barroom brawl that was so great in the first movie. Aside from that however, Channing Tatum and Halle Berry don’t seem all that useful, which is a real shame. Hopefully they make more of an appearance in the next movie!
Yeah, chances are there’s going to be another movie and I for one, cannot wait.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle might not be perfect, it has its tiny niggling moments but otherwise, all in all, it’s pretty freaking close. It’s hilarious from start to finish, the pacing is great and the plot is brilliantly delivered. If you’re a fan of the first one I encourage and implore you to watch this one!