After the blinding success of Kingsman: The Secret Service it seemed only natural that there would be a sequel right around the corner. And here we have it: Kingsman: The Golden Circle hit cinemas a few days ago and the box office has been booming.
The basic plot goes something like this… Kingsman HQ is blown sky high by Julianne Moore’s eccentric villain Poppy Adams, and the surviving agents head to their American counterparts, Statesman, for aid. The two organisations must now cooperate to get back to saving the world from the next evil genius in line to threaten humanity.
Given that a big selling point of the first Kingsman film, and a big crowd-pleaser, was the British gentlemen’s take on spy work, it felt like crossing the Atlantic to find the Statesman was a decision made purely to increase the franchise potential of Kingsman, rather than further the story. And while it could be quite funny to see the two sides mock each other, the Statesman side of things didn’t really do it for me – I didn’t hate it, I just didn’t love it like I loved the Kingsman. Not the most inspired storytelling decision ever made.
I think The Golden Circle lacked in some key areas really, and that brought down the general rating of it for me. The story was nowhere near as enticing as The Secret Service, which had the rags-to-riches, fish-out-of-water story that is proven to work so well, which it undoubtedly did. Plus, the first film had the huge advantage of being new – the fish-out-of-water character was being done in a new way, and it played out like the modernised re-vamp of the classic spy movies, particularly Bond. The Golden Circle‘s narrative didn’t have the same unique-ness as the first, and it becomes more like your generic “oh look, here’s another bad guy that wants to destroy the world as we know it.” Gripping, right? It was the job of Statesman to act as the unique hook this time, and it just didn’t catch as well.
The sense of humour I also thought was down in comparison to The Secret Service. The most obvious place you can find this is, of course, the Elton John cameo. It was funny the first few of times, but it dried up reeeaaaal quickly.
That said, the film was still fun and retained its sense of the jacked-up Bond movie, even if it was a somewhat crumbier version. The action sequences held together for the most part, without appearing too CGI treated, and most of the jokes and references made to The Secret Service hit their mark. And the more touching moments were just that, touching. They were consistently the most successful element.
I think much of what kept this film alive came from the actors. Taron Egerton was fantastic again as Eggsy, Colin Firth was as great his amnesia-induced lepidopterist but it was a shame that the trailer had already revealed his return. Julianne Moore did her best with a horribly two-dimensional villain (though she managed not to have a signature trait like that god-awful fake lisp Samuel L. Jackson carried for 95% of The Secret Service). None of the Statesman characters bar Pedro Pascal’s Whiskey had enough to do, and I’ve already covered Elton John’s part being stretched past its best before date. It was nice to see Hanna Alström’s Princess Tilde become more than just the butt of a horrendous joke (pun 100% intended), even if she did only play the damsel. The clear stand-out is the beloved Merlin, and Mark Strong will be sorely missed in any future instalments of Kingsman.
If ‘Manners maketh man’ is the Kingsman motto, then the Hollywood motto, judging by the current market, surely is ‘Sequels maketh Hollywood.’ Again I’ll reiterate, The Golden Circle is still an entertaining watch – it certainly wasn’t the worst, as sequels go – but it lost quite a lot of that Kingsman magic somewhere along the way. I for one, couldn’t wash that sour ‘unnecessary sequel’ taste from my mouth.
Back in 2014, Kingsman was special because it was fresh and new, and we’re crying out for more of this. So please, bigwigs behind the blockbusters, give us more fresh meat to chow on, because they’re the ones that go down best.