Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)
Anticipation overwhelmed me for this movie after I reviewed its predecessor earlier this week. Matthew Vaughn’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service” was refreshingly brilliant with that of its combination of action and silliness. It was like that of a mix of “Kick-Ass” and the sillier older Bond films from the 60’s and 70’s. Matthew Vaughn took that silliness and cranked it up from a four to a ten in the worst of ways, with that of the focus of this film becoming that of it’s over the top ridiculousness.
The narrative itself revolves around that of a situation in which the Kingsman are attacked and become no more. Therefore they must travel across the pond to join forces with their fellow spy organizations in the United States. These two elite secret organizations must work together to stop the childlike yet intelligent villain of Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore). “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is a disappointing sequel that is not atrocious as the reviewers at rogerebert.com would lead you to believe. Instead, it’s more of an underwhelming experience in which we watch a world expand without the screenwriters taking any steps to further our characters or add any new layers to them.
As I discussed “Kingsman: The Secret Service” was one of my favorite films of 2014, and it was indefinitely refreshing and invigorating to watch a film that was vastly different from anything else in the superhero genre today. One thing that made that film so great was its balance between silliness and sincerity. Some moments were intentionally tongue and cheek, but there was also underlying tones of bleak severity. Such as the scene with that of Eggsy’s (Taron Egerton) mother almost killing that of her child in a horrifically violent scene that showcased the stakes at hand for our characters that were resonating and investing. “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” lacks that tone almost entirely.
There are stakes though as characters do not always escape or survive the obstacles placed in front of them, but these risks are colored in with that of goofiness and humorousness. That severity is rarely applied to these scenes as there is always an over the top essence becoming the focal point of the scenes. It took me out of the film consistently due to the facet of when I would begin to become invested, looking for something of severity or significance to lend myself to, I would find myself retreating backward from that of the outrageousness of the scene. I don’t want to continue bashing on this film though, so I want to start focusing on the positives on this film for just a bit.
First off, Taron Egerton is, once again, brilliant in his performance. There are few new layers for him to explore as a character but he is remarkable for his performance because he embodies this character’s attitude almost seamlessly. Colin Firth is excellent as well as he has some new qualities to explore within that of his character. These new characters are few and far between, but Colin Firth added a dose of legitimacy to this film once again with a superb depiction of a man attempting to become the man he used to be.
Mark Strong receives an extra dose of screen time and becomes more of a leading character and exchanges some brilliant chemistry with that of Taron Egerton. He’s charmingly amusing, and at times he’s incredibly heartfelt as well. Channing Tatum is mismarketed as his screen time mostly consists of him being passed out. His character also feels very reminiscent of that of his character in Steven Soderbergh's “Logan Lucky.” I am not holding that as a flaw in this film though because his takes were probably wrapped up before he began shooting “Logan Lucky,” therefore Matthew Vaughn and the screenwriters had no idea that he be depicting a similar character in a smaller budget film that would be released before theirs. Jeff Bridges is charismatic once again, and he feels more deserving of a larger role in this film. He was the guest star on the live stream at Alamo Drafthouse, and I must say that this man does not get enough credit for his brilliance. He’s the Dude for crying out loud.
Jeff Bridges is one of the best actors working today, and he should be treated as such. A man that continues to innovate himself with that of last year’s “Hell or High Water.” He is simply one of the best actors working in this world we call filmmaking. Pedro Pascal is relegated to a role undeserving of his talents, and Julianne Moore is brilliant in her depiction of this almost childlike villainous who resembles that of Valentine in the best of ways. She desires to become the most acclaimed businesswoman in the world despite her business's product consisting of that of illegal drugs.
I enjoy that of these villains being so silly while also being incredibly sinister. Her character is easily one of the best parts of this film by far. The direction of the action is excellent once again as we discussed in that of “Kingsman: The Secret Service” in how Vaughn used rapid zooms and added doses of brilliant editing to capture some brilliant moments of intense action that showcases vulnerability and violent action. In “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” Vaughn relies a bit too much on the quick zooms at times where it almost a bit tedious and comparable to that of shaky cam. He adds some nuances to that direction by adding in some exquisite camera movements and how he uses the camera as a representative of the action that fluidly moves with that of our characters action.
Rotating, panning, and shifting with that of our characters to create some splendid action sequences. The editing is once again marvelous with that of its transitions and blends of CGI with that of its action moments feeling seamless and effortlessly believable at times. The elements within that of the editing that mix that of the comedic timing and action are remarkable as this film should be nominated for best visual editing for its near flawless ability to arrange its scene’s action, comedic timing, transitions, and amalgamation of CGI. The screenplay is where this film falls apart almost entirely. The whole premise of the screenplay is to expand the universe that was created in that of “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” The screenwriting focuses on that of how the Kinsman must join forces with that of their cousinly counterparts to overcome the odds. There are some subliminal political messages that I inferred from that of how the screenplay depicts that of the United States president and the statesman in general. That was the only dose of maturity I could find in the screenplay, because this film focuses almost exclusively on incorporating that of silliness instead of authenticity to its characters.
The characters begin to feel fabricated because they serve purely as expansions on that of particular characteristics with that of Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) being prescribed only by that of his ridiculous lasso. Tequila (Channing Tatum) is barely there as we’ve discussed. Champagne (Jeff Bridges) is depicted with quirks and mannerisms that are weirdly amusing at times due to their oddball lack of explanation. He sniffs his finger at times as well as many other things. He’s a bit odd at times to say the least. Ginger (Halle Berry) is one-note and serves as this feminist role that doesn’t get respect since she’s a woman.
By the way, her performance is very one note. She feels like Halle Berry and no one else. She’s a former best actress recipient who is now been relegated to just depicting herself in the worst of ways. She portrays characters that need to be different unlike that of Tom Cruise, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Jason Statham who have made a living off of paying themselves and no one else. Halle Berry can do better and needs to. The obvious surface level joke is that of the ridiculous names behind these secret agents that are a bit idiotic at times. This is where the ridiculousness of this world began to become the focal point of this film where we are introduced to robotic dogs, obvious societal messages that feel blatant, an overwhelming amount of subplots, and an extreme lack of character development.
The subplots become tedious with the amount that we are overwhelmed with. Starting with the cliche subplot between Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and his girlfriend, Princess Tilde (Hanna Alstrom). The numerous other subplot include that of Harry (Colin Firth) battling to become the man he used to be, Harry (Colin Firth) and Eggsy (Taron Egerton) switching roles as teacher and student, the subplot of Tequila (Channing Tatum) being a troublemaker, Halle Berry desiring to become a in the field combatant, the history between Charlie (Edward Holcroft) and Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the falling of the Kingsman, the rebuilding of the Kingsman, the terribleness of the United States president, Merlin’s (Mark Strong) guidance for Eggsy (Taron Egerton). These subplots are obviously tedious, but what makes this much worse is that of the lack of character development showcased in this screenplay.
These characters, we are invested in, never grow or add any new traits to themselves. It makes this film almost pointless as the only thing Eggsy (Taron Egerton) does differently is become a teacher to that of Colin Firth for a mere fifteen minutes of this screenplay. We learn about Harry’s (Colin Firth) past but it serves no purpose other than to become a plot device. Everything in this screenplay is merely pointless and lacking that of severity. Not to mention a unnecessary amount of attention painted towards Elton John for no other reason than to once again be ridiculously silly. He even does a Mortal Kombat kick in mid-air at one point in a scene that is almost cringe-worthy. He overstays his welcome in a big way.
The music was also particularly intriguing for me as one of the primary scores by that of Henry Jackman, and Matthew Margeson for this film resembled that of Danny Elfman’s score for “Spider-Man.” The beginning of that score specifically had the same uplifting introduction to their track. It’s a bit of a nitpick you could say, but that stuck out to me a lot. Although, I did enjoy the instrumental use of John Denver’s “Country Road” which, unlike the screenwriting, felt like a character expansion on that of Merlin (Mark Strong).
“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is an overwhelming disappointment. I was saddened by the lack of character expansion and overreliance on that of the over the top qualities introduced by that of the first film. The focus on the stupid over the top moments and the expansion of this universe of secret organizations feel lackluster to that of the idea of expanding on the characters and making our characters feel more investing for me as an audience member and a fan of the world that “Kingsman: The Secret Service” created. The stakes are there, but they're not treated with severity minus that of one scene in the beginning.
The lack of emotion shown is answered with that of the Kingsman organization itself which was a refreshing idea, but I was hoping to see Eggsy (Taron Egerton) grow in a different direction. “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is a safe sequel to a film that was unexpected to succeed as much as it did in 2014. “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” brings back its departed character and a huge cast to overcrowd this smaller universe that feels overexpanded with characters that are becoming stale the longer they aren’t expanded upon.
It’s an overwhelming disappointment, and it's sad to see a film drop so much, especially when that of the first one was such a brilliant breath of fresh air. I miss the innovation shown in the first one as I dread to see what happens in our third adaptation of this fantastic graphic novel series that deserves far better than this. “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is not abysmal but it's saddening to see what's happened with what was a potentially innovative franchise. Screenwriters, what have you done?