Kingsman: The Golden Circle - 2017
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is directed and co-written by Matthew Vaughn (Kickass, Kingsman and X-Men: First Class). Jane Godman once again served as co-writer, marking the fifth movie she has worked alongside Vaughn. Along with the creative minds behind the camera, the main cast in Taron Egerton, Mark Strong and Colin Firth also returned to reprise their roles. Joining the old cast is Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum and Pedro Pascal, with Julianne Moore as the main bad guy. The story centers around the Kingsman having to seek help from their American spy allies, the Statesman, after their headquarters are destroyed by an underground drug syndicate.
Like I said for my Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 review, sequels tend to fall into the same traps throughout history. Having the shadow of the first movie casting over them, they try to go bigger, funnier and with more explosions. Golden Circle is no exception, as they leaned heavily on the ultra-violence, fast-paced fight sequences and dark comedy that made the original stand out back in 2014. I was a fan of some of the elements of this movie, but of the overall product just adds up to more of the same.
Mathew Vaughn’s direction was solid through the film, maintaining a good pace throughout, even though it did sag a little in the middle. This sag is due to the movie being bit too long (2h 21mn runtime). A better version lives in my head with certain story elements cut from the final product. I did enjoy some of the natural transitions from point A to point B, while others felt a little shoehorned-in for exposition sake. I guess what I’m trying to say is… its good, not great. Certainly not the worst sequel I have seen, but it could’ve been much better.
Quick note: the over use of CGI was a little distracting and somewhat annoying since some of them could’ve been done practically.
In the original movie, the church sequence was one of the scenes that caught me off guard and is a stand-out in my head defining that movie. They used a unique camera movement following each punch, shoot and knife wound, closely zooming in and out at a rapid pace. Knowing that everyone loved that scene, it was a given that we would see this style return in the sequel. I just didn’t think almost every single fight scene would have this style. Some of the scenes work better than others, but the final fight scene legitimately made me dizzy. It was over the top during this fight scene, making it very hard to keep track of all the moving parts and it made me disconnect completely from the experience.
The acting was on point as Taron Egerton now has his character down to a tee. He has embraced the old-school Bond persona and his action sequences are fun despite the flaw I point out above. I love seeing Pedro Pascal getting cast in big budget movies as he is becoming one of my favorite actors working today. He plays Whiskey, one of the Statesman, and I never doubted he could kill anyone with a lasso. Julianne Moore is fun in her bad guy persona and I perked up off my seat every time she showed up on screen. The rest of the cast plays to their strengths, pretty much delivering the same performances we have seen from them before.
Quick note: there is a cameo that I really loved until it was overused and it became a distraction. I’m not sure it qualifies as a cameo since he got just as much as screen time as Channing Tatum got, but I will still call it a cameo.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a serviceable sequel that is genuinely fun. While it doesn’t quite capture the magic of the original, it still delivered a fun time. I know Vaughn has a third installment planned and I hope they learn from their mistakes from this one and embrace the elements that worked. Julianne Moore is why I love movies.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is currently playing in theaters. It’s not a Kingsmeh; go see it.
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