The reappearance of an old rival of Eggsy’s heralds an attack by the mysterious Golden Circle. Eggsy and the other surviving members of the Kingsmen follow the agency’s doomsday protocol and discover the existence of their American counterparts; The Statesmen.
Quick heads up for those who want to jump into the film totally unspoiled (and who can’t read between the lines of the trailers), there will be one sort of noteworthy spoiler given in this review. I was shooting for a 100% major spoiler-free review but it makes one of my points really hard to talk about not to bring this one up. So, for the spoiler averse, it’s a great, but not quite perfect, film; four and a half stars out of five. Now get out of here you scamps.
Okay, now that the nerds are gone, let’s get down to business. The Golden Circle is a textbook example of how you do a sequel properly. Eggsy’s rival turned evil, Charlie, survived the first movie due to Eggsy’s Taser ring damaging his Valentine implant chip. Now working for the Golden Circle, he is the one who made them aware of the Kingsmen’s existence. This is just one of many examples of events of this film being logical consequences of events in the previous one.
Like its predecessor, Golden Circle embraces the conventions of classic super spy films while simultaneously subverting many of them. Princess Tilde (who Eggsy had victory sex with at the end of the previous film) is now Eggsy’s steady girlfriend and plays an important role in his personal character arc. Unlike Valentine, Poppy (the head of the Golden Circle) suffers from Bond villain stupidity at points but the film actually runs with it; much of the drama of the climax of the plot is more from the response to her plan rather than just the plan itself.
By the end, we haven’t just returned to the status quo either, this being another sign of a good sequel. Kingsman is being rebuilt but characters have died and change has happened. However, this also leads us into the handful of not so great stuff.
The Golden Circle has even more of an all-star cast than the first movie and mostly juggles it well. However, if you were looking forward to seeing Channing Tatum kick ass, prepare to be disappointed. The trailers vastly inflate what is a minor supporting role; it seems a waste of the actor really. There might have been more screen time available if it wasn’t for Sir Elton John’s minor role as himself. It was handled fantastically, but he added nothing to the plot that couldn’t have been done by another character. This would have been fine, except his screen time could have been given to Channing Tatum (who many will have watched the film in order to see) or Roxy.
Roxy was Eggsy’s non-evil rival and friend who helped him and Merlin save the world in the first movie. When I heard there was going to be a sequel, I hoped there would be a bigger role for her. Instead, she dies along with the unnamed Kingsman agents with only a little more fanfare. Maybe she could have survived and shown up to help at the end instead of Sir Elton’s extended cameo. On a related note, the Kingsmen have pretty poor alert systems if they don’t warn you about incoming missiles until a few seconds before they actually hit.
In spite of a few minor shortcomings, Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle is an amazing movie in its own right and a fantastic sequel. Four and a half stars out of five.
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges
Running Time: 141 minutes