In this sequel to the breakout hit Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is now a full-fledged member of the Kingsmen, a spy agency masquerading as a posh tailor shop. When a rejected Kingsman applicant works with an insane drug lord called Poppy (Julianne Moore) to take revenge and destroy all the Kingsmen headquarters, Eggsy and remaining survivor Merlin (Mark Strong) go to America to seek help from their spy cousins, called Statesmen, who own a far more profitable whiskey business as a front than their English counterpart.
There they find out that Harry (Colin Firth) — Eggsy’s mentor whom we all thought died in the first movie — is actually alive through magic spy wizardry. They work with the Statesmen to stop Poppy’s nefarious plan to blackmail the governments of the world by poisoning all drug users and withholding the antidote until the governments pay up.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle review in a nutshell
The Kingsmen go to America. Other than that, there’s nothing fresh about this movie.
Would I recommend you watch it?
Only if you really like the cast, and want more of the first movie. If not, there are better ways to spend your time than watching an “ok” movie.
Otherwise, continue reading for a full, spoiler-filled review.
Full review of Kingsman: The Golden Circle (with major spoilers for this movie and Kingsman: The Secret Service!)
I mentioned in my “Movies Coming Soon” post that nothing in the trailer, synopsis, or cast of this movie sounds appealing to me, and the only reason why I’m watching it is in case it turns out to be an unexpected delight like the first movie.
To be fair, the movie isn’t that bad actually. Its only fault — besides going to America and saddling itself with a cast that I’m ambivalent about — is that it rehashes the same action formulas as the previous movie, so it’s no longer fresh anymore. The slowed-down then suddenly sped-up action, the tableau-esque frames of these action scenes that make them look stylishly unreal are all “been there, done that”. Not to say they aren’t entertaining, but too much of the same made me roll my eyes. Especially the taxi scene in the beginning, when it was clear that they were trying too hard to outdo themselves.
What I liked best about the movie was the music. I hate how they transported the Kingsmen to America and turned the whole posh spy concept into twangy Southern cowboys, but I love John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, and recognised strains of it in the bagpipe music that opened the film. I thought perhaps it was just a coincidence, maybe a tiny homage to the American transplant of the sequel, but they used it blatantly later in the film, so they obviously got the rights to it.
Also, if I’m not wrong — I’m not — they borrowed music from X-Men: First Class too! When Harry regains his memories, it’s the same music used in First Class when Charles helps Erik to unlock his full potential by remembering happier memories of his mother, so that his powers will be fuelled equally by strong positive emotions of love instead of just hatred and anger. Then I remembered that both movies are by 20th Century Fox, both are directed by Matthew Vaughn, and I found out later that Kingsman was also composed by Henry Jackman, who composed First Class, which explains the musical crossover.
I was devastated when Merlin sacrificed himself! I like Mark Strong’s character. And as mentioned above, I love “Take Me Home, Country Roads”, which has always been a plaintive song, so Merlin singing it before letting the landmine blow himself and Poppy’s guards up heightened the emotions of his death. The accompaniment by bagpipes and drums used in marching bands, which are often used in funereal and military music, made it even more mournful, heroic-sounding and tear-jerking.
I was surprised that Princess Tilde of Sweden played such a huge role in this movie, but it is sweet to see a leading man who is faithful and loyal to the woman we thought would just be a hookup in the previous movie.
I always suspected that Pedro Pascal’s character would be a double-crosser. I mostly based this intuition from the scene in the trailer where he and Eggsy look like they’re fighting in the gondola, though that turned out not to be the case. (The fighting in the gondola part.) But the Kingsman series looks like the sort of movies to have double-crossers. In fact, Michael Caine played that part in the first movie. (I can’t remember why he double-crossed the Kingsmen, but I do remember that he was a snob who looked down on Eggsy’s lower-class background.)
Channing Tatum’s role was more of a cameo, since he spends most of it incapacitated. I thought he would have a bigger role, but scheduling issues got in the way.
Elton John’s cameo was a surprise — though now that I realise, his name appears very prominently on the poster — but after a while, it became tiresome. He plays a caricature of himself, and in small doses, he could have been palatable, but they gave him too much screentime.
Julianne Moore’s character was really quite silly. She’s sugar-coated insanity, a little like Umbridge in the Harry Potter series, but she doesn’t feel as insidiously crawl-under-your-skin kind of evil. Perhaps because Julianne Moore looks sweeter than Umbridge does. But in terms of silliness, so was Samuel L. Jackson’s villain Valentine in the first movie. I can’t remember much of the evil plot in the first movie and why Valentine wanted to destroy the whole world, but I remember that Samuel L. Jackson’s villain was ridiculous.
Anyway, unfortunately for Poppy, her plan to blackmail the governments (or at least the U.S.) would have backfired because the fictional President of the United States is as much an asshole as the current real one, willing to let millions of people die to eradicate a problem.
To sum it up, The Golden Circle is ok to watch I guess. Especially for Merlin’s sacrifice. But it’s not as enjoyable or fresh as Kingsman: The Secret Service, so if you’ve other things to watch, go watch them instead.
Where to watch Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Streaming services: Kingsman: The Golden Circle is not on Netflix Singapore or US, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, or any other streaming service.