Kingsman: The Golden Circle – 2017

Director Matthew Vaughn
Screenplay by Vaughn and Jane Goldman
Starring  Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal, Hanna Alström, Edward Holcroft, Bruce Greenwood, Emma Watson, Sophie Cookson

So the question about the sequel is what you can do to surprise your audience. The first time I heard that Firth was going to be reprising his role as Harry (Firth) in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, my heart sank a little. Having him come back is ridiculous enough on its face. We now know that no one is really permanently gone if the groundswell wants them back. That it couldn’t have been at least kept a secret made the whole movie melodramatic, no matter what happens. Imagine how different The Empire Strikes Back would be if we went back to Ben in the promotional materials. Luke’s development would not be expected at all.

That’s the way I saw Eggsy (Edgerton) before watching this film. Fortunately, Matthew Vaughn starts the second Kingsman film with the mindset on further pushing Eggsy’s learning curve. The events that conspire to leave Eggsy and Merlin (Strong) together are a nice beginning for those who enjoyed seeing how they survived the first story. In the first act, we see Eggsy has stayed with the Princess. That is even more of a surprise for those who expected him to be coming home to Roxy (Cookson). It’s a strong Moneypenny on steroids feeling, seeing the smoldering Cookson in her conservative Kingsman uniform. It is even worse when we think now it likely will never happen.

The antagonist this time is an entertaining (for her) Moore as Poppy, a drug kingpin. Moore is way less shrill than I am used to seeing her, but then, she knows she’s not in contention for an Oscar here. Her plan seems kind of silly. I can’t say there aren’t more than a few people who would agree with the President (Greenwood) hanging back a beat or two. For the second time in a row, I can’t wait to see the plan work.

There is an occasion for the Kingsman to head to the US and visit their cousins, The Statesmen, lead by Bridges, Tatum, Pascal and Berry. I can’t say that the Statesmen add anything substantial to the mix, other than Pascal with his lasso.

The economy of characters dictates with the introduction of so many new characters, it is necessary to get rid of some others. This will be a tough sell for many, especially given the return of Harry and the presence of an Alpha Gel making no one truly being gone.

I enjoyed this film, even if it, surprisingly seems less violent than the original. It’s still one of the most violent films of the year, but it’s quite a comedown.

There is another more potentially more offensive scene regarding a tracking device placement. I cannot speak to this other than to say I would not like to have the same thing happen to me. Comparing this to the “If you save the world” statement of the Princess in the first film is to compare apples to oranges in the Garden of Eden. The mystery to me is that a film maker like Vaughn would have a need to go for shock at this stage in his career. There is so much more to enjoy in this film than a scene of that nature.

In a more refreshing sense, Elton John makes his best movie appearance ever. I say this only knowing about 4 films that he’s been in and never watching in him more than in this film. Every scene he’s in is not one you’d expect of one of his status.

There is no dip in quality or effort in this film. If you enjoyed the first one and can willingly suspend disbelief when it comes to characters that come and go, you should have no problems here. Vaughn’s sense of humor, understanding of visual flair and development of character is still on point here. I do think it would be interesting to see if he can curb his riskier tendencies to input juvenile references for a point. That may just land him a Marvel or Star Wars film. That would be a sight to see.

(**** out of *****)

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