Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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Undead action hero Colin Firth … I’m just gonna let that one sink in.

N o, I’m not a doctor, but there are times at which you have to call a bullet to the brain definitive. Unless I’m very much mistaken, point blank shots through the eye socket are not open to miracle cures. It’s a bullet through the eye socket; it obliterates a pathway and doesn’t stop until it hits bone … and even then. Sorry, this is morbid. I’m just calling, “bullshit” on the resurrection of elder Galahad (Colin Firth). Especially when the film was so happy about killing off all the other Kingsman agents.

Look, I get it. You come up with this wonderful cinematic coup: Colin Firth, gentlemanly kick-ass action star. All of moviedom comes up with an idea this good maybe four or five times a year max. Now you want more? Here’s a thought: don’t shoot him in the head in the first place.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Three years ago, Matthew Vaughn made a James Bond film. Only he didn’t call it a James Bond film. He called it Kingsman: The Secret Service. Ok, so it’s a lame title, but at a time when Bond films have sucked, really sucked, Kingsman was exactly what the genre needed: bravado, combat innovation, cool, gadgetry, sharp suits; it even went to levels of gore and sex that Bond films have shown no stomach for. Now, it’s time for a sequel. Could the formula work a second time? Can Vaughn find magic again? Can the Kingsman franchise replace Bond entirely?

In a word: no.

But it wasn’t for lack of trying. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is only a failure in comparison to the original. While this is an acceptable brain drain, it won’t make you forget how much better the other was … and it will make you gnash your teeth a little.

Assaulted by a former colleague thirty seconds in, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) immediately reminds us that this film is going to involve a fair amount of punching and even more shiny new toys. After a big crash separating the mechanical right arm of Charlie (Edward Holcroft), the film lays down the “here’s what we can imagine” theme: the broken car sheds its outer shell like some sort of reptile and races on perfectly intact, even shifting to submarine mode in order to lose the police in Hyde Park. Meanwhile, the arm is busy decoding and downloading Kingsman super-secret files. Seriously?  This spy organization is so secret that even recruits aren’t shown headquarters, but a displaced mechanical arm can download every pertinent piece of information in under three seconds. Well, that’s a bit embarrassing.

The villainous Madame Poppy (Julianne Moore) wastes no time in destroying all she can find with the Kingsman emblem, but neglects to account for Statesman, their American equivalent. The Statesman have traded the dapper dress for a lucrative whiskey empire, but retain the Kingsman’s annoying habit of singularizing a title that ought to be plural. In addition, the Statesman have a very much alive Colin Firth under lock and key. I’m not going to describe how this is possible. It’s stupid. And not content to imagine the bullet-to-the-head revival gambit is just a one-time thing, the film repeats the procedure in reviving a Statesman agent (Pedro Pascal, the Chilean Jeremy Renner) later in the film.

I haven’t even mentioned the silliest bit – somewhere in a Cambodian jungle, Poppy has recreated an entire block of retro 1950s shops from which to operate the world’s greatest drug empire. She even has her own private militia, mechanical hell hounds, and the real-life Elton John for entertainment purposes. [Kingsman 2 treated music like a bad party DJ: it had Elton John live and took little advantage; it became the 78th film this year to find narrative joy in the songs of John Denver; but it stumbled upon gold almost accidentally with a country version of “Word Up.”]  I don’t have a problem with Poppy’s policy of cannibalism to show employee loyalty if her meat grinder weren’t spotless through and through. It’s a meat grinder; you don’t clean every blade to a mop-n-glow shine between burgers, ok?

Kingsman: The Golden Circle had some triumphs of spirit and soul. I’m not sold on Taron Egerton as a movie star, but proper action scenes can make a hero out of almost any decent actor. Most Americans will be tickled by the idea of a Statesman equivalent, substituting lethal umbrellas for lethal lariats. And then, of course, there’s just the silly. It’s impossible to take this film seriously. I understand that Kingsman is a “comedy,” but it also threatened the deaths of millions of people including several named characters. In addition, it included a political bent that was far from comic. And you can read all about that in a spoiler riddled essay here.

The Kingsman find life ain’t so breezy
When their HQ becomes all swiss cheesy
Eggsy is back
With a tough case to crack
Don’t expect it to go over easy

Rated R, 141 Minutes
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
Genre: Bondery. James Bondery
Type of being most likely to enjoy this film: People so saddened by the death of Colin Firth in the first Kingsman they’re willing to accept a lot of bullshit to get him back
Type of being least likely to enjoy this film: Drug lords

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