Title: Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Describe This Movie In One Simpsons Quote:
Homer: Show them what American butts are made of, son.
Brief Plot Synopsis: The "Special Relationship" gets to third base.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant to the Film: Two and a half Upper Class Twits of the Year out of five.
Tagline: "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
Better Tagline: "Immigrant goes to America/Any hellos in America"
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: A year after foiling Richmond Valentine's nefarious plot, Kingsman Eggsy (Taron Edgerton) has assumed the mantle of "Galahad." Right away, he runs afoul of Charlie, the disgraced former Kingsman applicant turned henchman for global drug kingpin Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore). Poppy wants a couple of things: the Kingsmen out of the way, and legitimacy for her illicit economic accomplishments. To that end, she commits a devastating attack against the former, and then blackmails world leaders with tainted narcotics. One thing she hasn't counted on? Kingsman's heretofore unknown American analog: Statesman, who come to the aid of their desperate British counterparts (just like in WWII!).
"Critical" Analysis: If you enjoyed the first Kingsman, chances are you'll like this one just fine, though it isn't going to win many new converts. Director Matthew Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman know what made the first movie a surprise box-office success, so there's plenty of the over-the-top action sequences we remember, starting off with a "right cracking" car chase through central London and amping up from there. The technology still comfortably shades toward Star Trek levels of ridiculousness, and they even found a way to bring Harry (Colin Firth) back.
This isn't a spoiler; he's in the trailers. And on the poster.
Harry's return is directly tied to the aforementioned tech BS, so you just roll with it. It's also thanks directly to Statesman, who are twangy counterparts to their UK brethren. First, there's "Tequila" (Channing Tatum), issuing an introductory beatdown to Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong), and also "Whiskey" (Pedro Pascal), stepping into Harry's bar-brawl shoes. "Ginger Ale" (Halle Berry) is Merlin's tech equivalent, while Jeff Bridges (as Statesman honcho "Champagne") is clearly enjoying his abbreviated onscreen time to the fullest.
Their introduction is a bit of fresh air, though it does highlight the weird class-divide thing going on in both movies (though not as noticeable in the first one.) First off, yes: Clearly the "traditional" Kingsman hopefuls were the usual toffs; that's what made Eggsy unique. There's a different split, however, between field agents and the rear echelon. Merlin, Eggsy's trainer and backup, is working-class Scottish, which was at the time perhaps a less noticeable schism than having an African-American woman as the tech support for an organization clearly founded and still largely run by Southern white dudes.
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And if Firth seems a shade less enthusiastic this time around, perhaps that's a reflection of what doesn't work so much. Perversely, Vaughn and Goldman have also latched onto what a lot of people *didn't* like from the original and turned the skeeve factor up to 11. Look, whatever your feelings on Kingsman the first, that anal sex bargain between the Swedish Crown Princess and Eggsy was a bit...jarring. On one hand, the first movie had done a decent job (to that point) subverting a lot of spy-movie expectations (Valentine's abrupt execution of Harry among them), so to fall right back into one (the agent sleeping with the girl he just rescued) was a bit disappointing.
So the "good" news is, Eggsy and Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström) are still an item. The bad news? The filmmakers have decided to double down on what made their meet not so cute (short version: Eggsy has to plant a tracking device on Charlie's girlfriend, a maneuver requiring three seconds of contact with a "mucus membrane"...no, not the nose). It's a metaphorical bird flip to anyone who complained the first time around, and unfortunately subverts the good will Edgerton has built up to that point.
And that's too bad, because scientific gobbledygook and a somewhat lackluster attempt to reinvent the "Free Bird" shootout from Kingsman aside, The Golden Circle has a few things to recommend it. The "Statesmen" are largely entertaining, when onscreen (Tatum literally spends two-thirds of the movie on ice), and the chemistry between Strong and Berry is rather delightful. Moore is disarmingly menacing, and the unlikely star of the movie just might end up being Elton freaking John.
So, to sum up: more of the same, be it green screen heroics or unpleasant sexual politics, which may/may not be offset by head shots and classic rock (and the hilarious assertion that people in the UK and Sweden are regular viewers of Fox News). And that's without getting into the unceremonious dispatching of a couple of beloved characters from the first movie.