Look back to the obnoxious 2015 original, Kingsman: The Secret Service, and try to recall the closing scene. After all the mayhem, the young secret agent is awarded the girl as if she was a gift for a job well done. She’s Princess Tilde of Sweden, and she’s on her hands and knees with her butt in the air, ready, willing, and waiting. It was meant to be a juvenile parody of a James Bond conclusion, except in Kingsman, it wasn’t funny. If anything, it was borderline offensive, and for the closing scene before the fade out, it left a nasty feeling as the end credits rolled.
Several reviewers remarked on it concluding that if there was any semblance of goodwill felt towards the film, then this ill-conceived, female objectification, final moment pretty much buried it. But writers Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn have not only ignored the criticism, they’ve flipped the bird to the critics. Throughout Kingsman: The Golden Circle, there’s not only repeated references and actions to orifice invasion, even musician Elton John in a lengthy guest appearance gets in on the anal sex joke by telling his rescuer with a cheeky, all-knowing grin that the agent not only gets free tickets to a concert, he also gets an after-show backdoor pass.
This new film, directed once again by co-writer Vaughn, is a cheat, and it cheats in such a way that everything that follows holds no sense of suspense or danger during anything that follows. Two characters plainly killed in front of us in the first film are resurrected for convenience in this second. Once this is done, you know that nothing to come will really mean anything. With the exception of the film’s lead, Eggsy (the mildly London Jafaican accented bruv, Taron Egerton) and his support, Merlin (Mark Strong, with the slightest hint of a Scottish brogue), every good guy character from the secret service Kingsman organization is killed in individual bomb attacks. Even the highest ranking official, Arthur (Michael Gambon) and the hugely likable Roxy (Sophie Cookson) are both blown to pieces during the story’s initial setup.
Dead? They should be. But in this Kingsman world, who knows? Considering how this sequel is quite happy to come up with nonsensical reasons and newly invented devices that resurrect a former Kingsman trainee who never made the grade, Charlie (Edward Holcroft) and Eggsy’s mentor who was previously shot at point-blank range in the head, Harry (Colin Firth), who’s to say that in the planned third outing already in development, Arthur and Roxy won’t somehow return?
The subtitle of the sequel, The Golden Circle, refers to a clumsy looking marking, painfully engraved on the bodies of the bad guys who work for murderous criminal mastermind and wealthy entrepreneur, Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), a woman who spends almost all of the film smiling and laughing, not so much with maniacal glee but with giddy delight at her villainy. Poppy is the world’s biggest drug dealer and distributor, and her plan is to infect all of her drugs her with a nasty formula that will eventually kill anyone who uses them. But there’s an antidote, and as long as the world succumbs to her demands, the fast-acting liquid will be delivered before a very painful death occurs.
Considering that with the exception of young Eggsy, in his stylish Saville Row suit, and Merlin, looking equally dapper, all the other Kingsman are now dead, the two agents join forces with their American secret service counterpart, Statesman, where due to its front as a whisky distillery, all of the Statesman agents have names reflecting drinks, including Tequila (Channing Tatum), Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), Jack Daniels (Pedro Pascal), and its boss, Champagne (Jeff Bridges).
Like the first outing, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is an f-bomb laden, over-the-top, absurdly violent action thriller that ups its ludicrous level several notches more. And at 140 minutes, it’s ridiculously long. But it could have been fun.
Those action sequences on a mountain side, the gun fights, the comical barroom brawl, and the car chases are certainly well choreographed and executed (if a little too obvious with the CGI during an opening taxi chase through the streets of London into Hyde Park). Plus, watching Elton John joining in with the climactic fight while a theatre marquee behind him reads The Bitch Is Back is funny. And here’s yet another film that seems intent on resurrecting the musical catalog of the sadly deceased John Denver. But it’s that constant, vindictive, underlining mean steak disguised as humor that messes things up. Like the newly enlisted bad guy named Angel (Tom Benedict Knight) who is ordered to drop another agent into a meat grinder, then forced to eat the hamburger made from the dead agent’s churned carcass, it all leaves a nasty taste.
And how is it that in this Kingsman world, the only TV station that anyone ever watches is Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News. It’s on in every home, in the White House, and even in Scandinavia where the Swedish royal family have it broadcasting in their opulent royal living room. Evidently, no one in the world watches anything else. Considering that the film is distributed by Murdoch’s 20th Century Fox, and even the Chief of Staff in the White House (Emily Watson) is also called Fox, forget Julianne Moore’s villain; we all know who’s really going for global domination.
MPAA Rating: R Length: 140 Minutes Overall rating: 3 (out of 10)