Return of the Kingsman
Kingsman: The Golden Circle was an unexpected but pleasantly surprising sequel. It has been a long time since I first watched Kingsman: The Secret Service, and I don’t remember much outside of the overarching plot; so I essentially went into this movie blind. If you didn’t make it out from the trailers, the Kingsman find their way back to America, but in a much different light. We follow many of the same characters we grew to love the first time around as they set off on a much more exotic journey. It turned out to be a fantastic action movie with more than just a hint of comedy. It was a unique combination of genres, but one that blended well together. This may be a difficult movie to dissect without getting somewhat specific so reader discretion advised for minor spoilers.
Action? Comedy? Romance?
As I mentioned before, Kingsman: The Golden Circle seemed to dip its fingers in quite a few different genres. There were intense fight sequences, moments exploring human emotion, and more than a few witty quips that got a good laugh. With this kind of a cinematic formula, it would be very easy to lose focus and leave the audience distracted and confused, but this was not the case with Kingsman. In fact, this genre exploration was one of its most unique qualities as a film.
After the events in the first film, the Secret Service seems to be regaining some stability; then things take a dramatic turn for the worse. So far, a fairly typical action movie plot. In the wake of catastrophe, however, the beloved British agents have to reach out to another organization located in the American Midwest for help. This is where things get interesting and where the movie gains a lot of personality. It is within this new organization that we are also introduced to some new and memorable characters. Despite the fact that things were often over-dramatized to up the excitement, the interaction between characters felt very human and relatable. The movie also made use of some very heavy stereotyping in their characters to further characterize their interactions; it paid off wonderfully with the British/American culture clash adding a great deal of comedic value.
The Value of Storytelling
Don’t get me wrong, memorable characters and some kickass fighting sequences are super important in making a good movie, but even more important, in my book, is a decent story. Unfortunately, this is where Kingsman: The Golden Circle fell a bit flat for me. Behind every good action movie is a memorable villain with some thought-provoking plan to seek vengeance or something along those lines. The villain in this movie, however, just didn’t really work. In fact, the whole antagonist at the end of the plot made little sense.
For a start, I don’t think Julianne Moore was a great choice to play a villain, nothing about her really seems to fit the “evil mastermind” persona. To make things worse, they didn’t do much to build her up as a true villain. Sure, she was quirky, but it just came across as odd and laughable more than truly threatening. We essentially ended up with some middle-aged soccer mom who was tired of having to run her illegal business under the table and started killing people until her operation was legalized. Oh, and she was obsessed with 1950’s pop culture for some reason. I guess all evil villains have some obsession? I understand the movie itself was meant to be a little absurd but with such serious undertones, I expected a more serious villain to go along with it.
Generally, we don’t think about the effort that goes into getting those awesome camera shots during production, but in The Golden Circle and, more particularly, its action sequences, you can’t help but appreciate what went into it. From fist fights atop moving vehicles to people getting limbs severed with a plasma lasso (yes, you read that right) there is more than enough action to get excited about. Along with things like well-timed slow-motion effects and unique camera angles, these sequences are some of the best the movie has to offer; and it more than makes up for the lackluster plot.
Even during the “downtime” between the action, I found there was quite a bit to be interested in. The use of a good variety of vastly differing locations made each new sequence feel like an adventure of its own and the majority of the side characters were quite interesting and it felt like everyone had their own little side story to follow. I was a little disappointed in the lack of screen time that Channing Tatum received, as he was used as such a huge marketing point for the movie. Regardless, the movie really does do a good job of making you feel like you are actually a part of the world they have created.
Even at its decently long run-time of about 2.5 hours, I don’t think I once found myself getting bored or wondering what was going on. The movie does a fantastic job of providing interesting characters and giving you a reason to care about them, even if you are not super familiar with the first movie of the pair. The plot does suffer a bit, particularly when it comes to a practical threat but there are so many other characters with smaller subplots to distract you that I found myself almost completely forgetting about the main “antagonist” until she reappeared in another scene later on.
All in all, I found watching Kingsman: The Golden Circle to be an enjoyable experience. It manages to maintain its serious nature while incorporating a good amount comedic relief to lighten the mood. It can get a bit crass at times, but it has very appropriate timing and context. I’m not sure I initially expected the first Kingsman movie to receive a sequel so soon, but I was pleasantly surprised with the result. This is one that is definitely worth a watch if for nothing more than a good few hours of entertainment.