Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman's journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy. 

This movie feels familiar, and on two counts it is.

The Golden Circle is the sequel to the unexpected success story Kingsman: The Secret Service, which was a humorous satire of spy movie tropes with serious undertones mixed in. It knew when to be serious and when to be so serious it was funny. That, combined with some excellent cinematography, made The Secret Service a thoroughly enjoyable film.

The Golden Circle has all of these things as well, but while still fun it just comes off feeling like a lesser imitation of the original.

Which is where the second count of familiarity comes in: 2017 had another one of these sequels repeat the same formula with lesser results, namely Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Curiously, both original films (Kingsman: The Secret Service and Guardians of the Galaxy) premiered in 2014 with both sequels coming out this year.

Now, that's not to say that Guardians Vol. 2 wasn't fun, and The Golden Circle has plenty of fun as well.

The film finds the Kingsman on the receiving end of a ruthless Julianne Moore as Poppy, a leader of a drug cartel who wants all drugs to be legalized. Her leverage: her drugs will kill all of its users, of which there are hundreds of millions worldwide. With the Kingsmen's UK resources destroyed, it's up to Taron Egerton's Eggsy and Mark Strong's Merlin to team up with the Statesmen, the US intelligence service featuring Jeff Bridges's Champ, Channing Tatum's Tequila, and Halle Berry's Ginger Ale.

There are fast-paced, well-shot action scenes throughout, as with the original Kingsman, the standout being the taxi chase at the beginning. The dialogue is fun, but it hits a few sour notes along the way, especially in its parodying of a certain political figure which comes off as ham-fisted and forced.

The pacing of this film is a problem. At 2 hours 21 minutes, it definitely feels too long, especially when there are one too many big set pieces that feel like they should be the stage for the finale but end up being not.

Finally, there's a right way and a wrong way to do callbacks to the previous film in a sequel. It's OK to be overt, as long as it's balanced with other, more subtle references as well. Unfortunately, The Golden Circle tends to pound you over the head with callbacks, including literally splicing in footage from the first film in reference to characters who are supposed to be important, but for the life of me you can't possibly remember where they popped up in the first film unless you watch it right before seeing this one.

Overall, I would say that there is nothing truly objectionable about this film (although throwing in lots of F-Bombs doesn't automatically equal comedy), but this film may just serve as a reminder of a much more solid film that came before it rather than standing on its own merits

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