Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
Film review #361
Director: Matthew Vaughn
SYNOPSIS: When an attack on the secret agency Kingsman leaves the entire organisation in ruins and agent Galahad (Eggsy) and Merlin as the only survivors, they enact the doomsday protocol and head out to Kentucky to seek out assistance. They discover the Statesmen, a secret agency like their own, and the two must join forces to stop a mysterious organisation known as the “Golden Circle”, which is holding the world hostage by infecting drugs with a disease that can only be cured with the antidote being held by them…
THOUGHTS/ANALYSIS: Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a 2017 spy film and the sequel to the 2014 Kingsman film. The film starts off re-introducing Eggsy, the protagonist of the first film, and throwing him straight into an action sequence involving a high speed fight scene through the streets of London. It is a strong start that delivers precisely what you would expect from the film, as well as setting up the plot of the rest of the film. Everything changes however, when an attack targeting all of the Kingsman agents and assets leaves the entire agency wiped with Eggsy and intelligence asset Merlin as the only survivors. The film starts off re-introducing all the familiar concepts and characters, and to destroy them all in the blink of an eye certainly raises the stakes, but in doing so leaves no room for the agency to develop or for us to learn more about it. The plot on the whole is fairly straightforward and follows the typical structure of a spy film, but blends in some contemporary twists and comedy as did its predecessor to freshen up the genre. Unfortunately, the problems that the first film had still persists in the sequel: namely the inconsistency of tone and a wayward idea of what the film wants to be. Whether a serious spy film, a spoof of said films, or something else, it oscillates between these objectives and as a result feels a little disjointed. However, I think it improves on these issues compared to its predecessor, and the more over-the-top characters and story help reinforce the notion that the film is essentially a bit of not-so-serious entertainment.
After Kingsman is essentially wiped out, Merlin and Galahad/Eggsy learn that the agency’s “doomsday protocol” involves an American whiskey brewer in some way. They travel out to Kentucky where they find it is the home of the “Statesmen”: the U.S. equivalent of Kingsman, They agree to work together to find who was behind the attack; a group calling themselves the “Golden Circle.” But that’s not all. It turns out they also rescued Harry, the Kingsman agent who was shot and seemingly killed in the first film. However, he has lost his memory, and part of the film revolves around trying to reclaim it. There’s actually quite a lot of story going on in The Golden Circle, and it equates to a film with a runtime of nearly two and a half hours. I think this could have been reduced to make it run a bit more smoothly, as there a lot of elements that aren’t too necessary for the story. The new characters barely make any impact on the film, and as the film’s aim is to expand the world with this new agency, this failure is rather significant. On the other hand, there’s some good roles for the villains, and the bizarre role that Elton John has helps spice things up a little.
The Golden Circle retains the style of the original in terms of the action sequences, with the over-the-top and entertaining fights and chases that not only are in keeping with the original, but make them even more ambitious and over-the-top. The original had this element of a normal young man being brought into this extraordinary world and all the conflicts that arose from it, whereas this sequel starts off in the latter and never really comes down from it, creating a different feeling. In fact, the film builds on this and makes things even more over-the-top, introducing robot guards and dogs for the agents to fight. The effects however, are pretty consistent, and give the visuals a definite flair and impact that compliment the excessive and silly setups without them looking cheap or tacky. Overall, Kingsman: The Golden Circle keeps the mix of comedy and action that made the first film successful, while also doubling down on the more over-the-top elements. The returning characters and ideas are worked through more thoroughly quite well, but the new characters and elements are often overshadowed and play an ever-diminishing role. It still suffers from an inconsistent tone with regards to what it is aiming to be, but makes some strides to improve on it. It’s more silly action and entertainment, with an occasional and clever swipe at American culture that all adds up to another worthwhile bit of entertainment.