The sequel to 2015's hit Kingsman: The Secret Service won't make you feel the urgent need to take a shower and/or throw up, like the original probably did. That's not always a good thing. Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Matthew Vaughn's follow-up to his brutal, joyfully degenerate adaptation of Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons's 2012 comic book, has been crafted to broaden the series' appeal, to turn it into a legitimate franchise. So, it's got more stars, more set pieces, more … stuff. The garish violence remains. Gone, however, is much of the creativity, the unpredictable depravity.
The original posited that Kingsman was a group of uber-British secret service of dapper, debonair, high-tech spies who had long operated out of a society of Savile Row tailors. This time, most of the group gets destroyed early on. Left behind once again are Eggsy, aka Galahad (Taron Egerton), the mouthy initiate hero, and Merlin (Mark Strong), the Q of the organization.
Tracking clues, they find themselves in Kentucky, in the headquarters of Statesman, their good ol' boy American counterparts run by garrulous patriarch Champagne (Jeff Bridges); their members are named not after Arthurian legends but after drinks. There's shit-kicking, trash-talking Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), the Americans' answer to Merlin.
The first film spent a lot of time introducing us to Kingsman, but the world-building, in other words, was fortified by suspense, character and narrative drive. Here, it's more like orientation sessions. Things pick up, but I waited in vain for a moment as inspired as the original's throwaway shot of a baddie being stabbed in the face as his own severed hand zoomed by.