SPM movie review: “Kingsman” remains faithful to the crown

If the original is the king, “The Golden Circle” is at least the prince

In an all too saturated market of reboots and nine-part movie franchises, having fresh ideas on screen was sorely needed by the time “Kingsman: The Secret Service” reinvented the spy genre only a few years ago. With its great and unanticipated success, its successor to the throne had a lot to live up to. 

But does “The Golden Circle” really measure up?

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” takes place some time after the events of “The Secret Service” finding Eggsy (Taron Egerton) leading the secret life of spy and average ordinary 20-something — who just so happens to be dating the princess of Sweden. When his world is literally blown to smithereens, it’s up to him, Merlin (Mark Strong) and the Kingsmen’s American cousins, The Statesmen, to uproot the evil what sought to remove them from their royal pedestal. 

The film itself is just as fun as the first, and in some ways, more so. Right from the get go we see Eggsy having to figure his way out of a deliciously stylized car chase/high octane fight for his life. If that doesn’t get your blood pumping, not sure what will.

The movie only lets up for brief instances so we can see how this new lifestyle affects our beloved spy hero. A definite theme of the movie is how Eggsy balances his two worlds and the film makes sure the audience knows it. It is an unfortunate development, given that the first film treated the audience more kindly.

Where the film does get more involved is through its new villain: the delightfully sadistic Julianne Moore, aka Poppy: International Drug Cartel Recluse. Moore is sensational in her role that sees cunning meet slightly bonkers. 

Upset with what the war on drugs has done to her business and societal status, when even sugar is “eight times more addictive than cocaine” (a fact I did check on and seems to be a topic of much debate), Poppy wants to right this wrong and bring all drugs to the open market. 

Already getting political on its discussion of legalizing drugs, “The Golden Circle” ups it up a notch when negotiations with the President of the United States see him take a very particular stance that may, not so subtly, be poking fun at very public political figure today. 

The political commentary in the movie is top notch and a source of excellent entertainment regardless of beliefs. 

When the movie does need to get a little more emotional, it plays on the father-son dynamic between Eggsy and his teacher, Harry Hart (Colin Firth). 

While a nice storyline to go on since the first film touches on Eggsy’s lack of a father figure, it all feels rather surface level in this film, a fact that could’ve easily been fixed with heavier dialogue. 

There is also his romantic life that hangs in the balance, but it is handled in such a messy way that it is never truly satisfying. The characters feel somewhat emptier in this sequel and this is a fact that is truly a disappointment.

Also disappointing are the mistreatment of Roxy (Sophie Cookson) and the fact that The Statesmen, while wildly entertaining, are more set pieces than anything else. Hardly indistinguishable from the variety of great gadgets Eggy uses throughout the film. 

What saves this though is the masterful use of Elton John, a diamond in this patch of rough that is sure to bring joy to the hearts of audiences everywhere. To put it simply: he is the action hero we never knew we needed. 

Also a great surprise is that the third act of this film feels much better than the over stylized third act of its original. The action is easy to follow, highly entertaining and equally satisfying, but nothing to replace that of the church scene from the first. Still, it was like a nice beer compared to a bottle of champagne — both get you drunk, one just does it better. 

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is every bit as satisfying as the first, just without the surprise or sense of originality that the first delivered. While its characters never dig too deep below the surface, the surface of this film is stunning to look at and delivers a comedic-satire that will leave audiences with a smile on their face.

And if that still doesn’t do it for you, Elton John’s performance will.

Overall score: 4/5

Reach the reporter at balnero13@gmail.com or follow @BaldnerOwen on Twitter.

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