a critiQal film review Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Plot: When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, their journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US called Statesman, dating back to the day they were both founded. In a new adventure that tests their agents’ strength and wits to the limit, these two elite secret organizations band together to defeat a ruthless common enemy, in order to save the world - something that’s becoming a bit of a habit for Eggsy (Egerton)…

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When trying to decide today’s movie, it seemed an obvious choice. What movie had I been wanting to see ever since the plans for a sequel had first been announced? Why, Kingsman: The Golden Circle. What else?

After the fun of the first film (despite a surprising misstep by Samuel L. Jackson with his silly lisp in that film), the idea that a sequel was coming out was very exciting. Who wouldn’t want to see the further adventures of these characters. Were the rumors true and a much-loved character was returning? Would they improve on the villain this time around? When I saw Kingsman: The Golden Circle pop up in my search, I just had to finally lay my questions to rest…and hopefully have a good a time doing it.

Taron Egerton takes over the lead in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and despite not having seen him in much of anything but the original, does a solid job in the role. He seems more comfortable in his role this time around, and he and Merlin (played by a – finally – correctly cast Mark Strong) do a solid job of leading the viewers on their way. Taron really steps up to the plate, and shows how much he learned from Colin in the first film.

Julianne Moore, who is more known for her last-minute replacements of famous characters in sequel (she took over for Jodie Foster in Hannibal (2001), as well as replacing Laura Dern in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)), she has been known to turn in some strong performances in quirky films like Children of Men (2006) and Blindness (2008). With Poppy in Kingsman: the Golden Circle, she’s finally chosen a villain role that she can really connect with. While Poppy is evil, her actions are wrapped up in a neat housewife persona (like when she serves one of her henchman a picture perfect cheeseburger that just happens to be made from human meat. As Charlton Heston would say in Soylent Green (1973), that cheeseburger “…is people!”). It’s a smart choice for her, and viewers will enjoy how she seems to relish the role.

Surprisingly, even seemingly miscast actors finally get a role that fits them in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Channing Tatum, who is usually not that great in anything, seems like a smart fit for his role as an agent from the South. He doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time (a positive thing), and he doesn’t actually mess up any of the screen time he does have. When was the last time viewers could say they liked Tatum for his acting in a film?

Even Halle Berry changes things up and plays the bookish computer cracker, even while letting the main stars run with the film. Unlike earlier films like Monster’s Ball (2001) (where she was constantly naked) or Swordfish (2001) (where her expensive boob shot overshadowed everything else about that film in the media), she’s finally content with sharing the spotlight. Maybe being a part of X-Men (2000) really opened her eyes. After all, she wasn’t the primary character there, but still managed to snag a piece of the spotlight as part of a team.

As with any sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle tries to keep the feel of the original, while expanding on the universe the first film created. They, thankfully, manage to do both with style, making the viewer feel both instantly at home again, and excited to see where the story is headed. With an expansion that includes a trip to the US (something that seems a natural fit to expand the universe), the storyline just seems to make sense in the world that the first film created.

Okay, it does stretch things a bit, but even those plot twists are used to the film’s advantage. For instance, one of the more bizarre twists is used not only to reinvigorate the storyline to match with the original, it’s actually used as a major point later on during the film’s climax. That makes the twist seem more of a natural fit to Kinsgman: The Golden Circle, rather than just a silly Hollywood trick to bring back the magic of the first film.

The action sequences, like they were in Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), are stylized to perfection in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Using an interesting mix of slow-motion/bullet-time sequences, they keep the viewer tuned in to the action, no matter how quickly it’s going by in real-time. It’s like inserting a hyper-awareness into the fights, and just like in The Matrix (1999), it helps keep the viewer connected to the danger the protagonist(s) face and gives the viewer a heightened thrill at being able to see the sequences in minute detail, rather than just a quick blur they might miss.

With a cast that seems perfectly cast, from the villain to the protagonists to their new allies – despite the inclusion of perennial miscasts like Julianne Moore and Channing Tatum, a storyline that easily fits into the world the original created, and even the crazy plot twists finely worked into the story in a natural way, Kingsman: the Golden Circle does what films rarely do: actually manage to not only live up to the original, but actually improve on it. There are no missteps here – not even a weird lisp that will pull viewers out. This is the sequel that fans of Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) have been waiting for, and is as good as this series will ever get.

If you haven’t seen the original, make sure to watch Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) first. Kingsman: the Golden Circle is definitely one of those sequels that’s better after watching the original.

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