Following our first fitting in the Kingsman tailors shop, chances of a second instalment being on the cards was hardly top-secret. Adding further proof that Matthew Vaughn could deliver a chaotic and wonderfully refreshing comic book caper that even the MCU or the DCEU rivals could struggle to match, simply thanks to its body and expletive insult count, of course the world wanted more. His second project taken from the masterful and rather mad repertoire of Mark Millar’s F-bomb dropping fish-out-of-water tale with an espionage twist was a real treat, leaving high hopes for when The Golden Circle came around.
Now with the world of secret agents and umbrella-carrying ‘ard men fully fleshed out Vaughn makes no effort to ease audiences politely back into it within the first five minutes. Immediately, we’re reunited with chav-turned-charming man of mystery, Eggsy having a scuffle in a London cab that even 007 might tap out of. It’s absurd and action-packed and an amplified level of insanity that we’ve hoped to see, but much like the predictably incapacitated cabbie in the scenario, Vaughn doesn’t take his foot of the pedal, as this set piece hurtles forward – and that’s the problem for The Golden Circle.
Stretching the borders of the Kingsman universe beyond ol’ Blighty this time round following a crucial hit to the secret service, Eggsy learns of another team across the Atlantic that may be able to help when an unknown villain blows our sharply suited order off the map. With this new discovery comes another additional jaw dropper that Colin Firth’s Harry Hart escaped death from the first film but is now a visually impaired amnesic who can’t handle a bar like he used to. With a man partially down and chasing butterflies, it’s up to Eggsy to bring his mentor back to the fold in time to save the day from Americana-obsessed drug lord, Poppy (Julianne Moore playing evil with a smile) from holding the world at ransom.
Ensuring to follow the essential sequel rule of going bigger for round 2, The Golden Circle doesn’t necessarily get better, because of it. The slow motion, perfectly soundtracked showdowns are back, but they bloat out time that could be spent catching up with our heroes and providing a more chalk and cheese pairing between the Kingsman and their trans-atlantic allies, The Statesman, especially considering the names littered among the ranks.
For a franchise that prides itself on its eclectic and effective arsenal, the likes of Channing Tatum, Halle Berry and Jeff Bridges have nowhere near as much prominence as they should do. If there are even whispers of considering a Statesman spin-off, there’s not enough interest built here to permit it. Tatum bows out for most of the film as Eggsy’s equal hot-headed agent, Tequila, Bridges phones in with his recently stapled Texan drawl that he’s delivered in the past few films he’s done and Halley Berry gets sidelined like every other female role that doesn’t seem to have a place in Kingsman. The only shining light from our friends across the pond is with Narcos and Game of Thrones star, Pedro Pascal as Whiskey, who has his own take on a traditional bar fight, but even he suffers at the hand of disappointing creative choices.
The redemption thankfully lies with our original lethal trio in the form of Colin Firth, Mark Strong as Q-like tech man, Merlin, and of course Taron Egerton as Eggsy. Whilst Firth may be left playing timid flower trying to tap into his former lethal ways, Egerton carries the film as well as he did the first time round as the newest recruit. Charm and charisma are once again in full flow and even manage to make what is an appalling joke that tops the formers final gag just about bearable, but it’s another of many overstepped marks that don’t land as well as they should, and I’ve not even mentioned Elton John’s involvement for reasons even I can’t clarify. More of the same, isn’t necessarily the right thing for a sequel, and if a rumoured threequel does get the thumbs up, we can only hope it remembers its manners next time.