After Eggsy (Taron Edgerton) – the new Agent Galahad – is attacked by disgruntled Kingsman reject Charlie (Edward Holcroft), the team realise there is a new threat to their agency on the rise. After all Kingsmen locations are fatally attacked, Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) turn to their American cousins Statesman to join forced and take down the threat; a mysterious drug dealer named Poppy, whose plan threatens millions of people around the world.
Two and a half years after the release of the first Kingsman film, Eggsy and his colleagues are back on the big screen with a new cast of characters and a new villain to take down. It is clear that the move to include the US agency Statesman was calculated to get US audiences on board with the over the top and hyper violent franchise, but although The Golden Circle is more consistent in tone than the first film, and tries very hard to be fun, this new film is certainly missing a twinkle in its eye.
The cast is made up of Taron Edgerton, Mark Strong and Colin Firth as the surviving Kingsmen, and introduces Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Halle Berry and Pedro Pascal as the Statesman agents; the film also stars Hanna Alström, Keith Allen, Tom Benedict Knight, and Julianne Moore as the villainous Poppy. The cast do fine with their roles, but are never given a chance to develop anything other than the superficial. In fact, there are some of the cast who are horribly underused, such as Michael Gambon, Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum and Emily Watson who, it seems, never quite get the chance to get going.
Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn’s screenplay has solved some of the problems of the first film, and evened out the overall tone of the film, which wobbled throughout the Kingsman’s first outing. That said, there are some brand new problems that arise in this sequel, such as an overly long running time that makes the pacing of the film stumble often, and the rather thin story feels drawn out. As well as this, the characters never feel anything other than one dimensional, and there is very little fun to be had, other than some self-conscious attempts at humour throughout the film.
As director, Matthew Vaughn tries his best to give Kingsman: The Golden Circle a sense of energy and fun, but although the action scenes are fast paced and violent, and it is clear that he is having fun with the gadgets and the juxtaposition of gentlemen being violent killing machines, it rarely feel as though Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a film that is having fun. Even though the film has more of a cohesive feel than its predecessor, and there is certainly a feel of fun and tongue in cheek humour with Poppy’s homesick hideout, the shine is quickly rubbed off Kingsman: The Golden Circle, a shine that not even Elton John’s wonderfully over the top cameo cannot replace.
In all, Kingsman: The Golden Circle certainly solves some of the issues with its predecessor, but feels overly long, lacks fun, and criminally underuse’s much of its stellar cast. Let’s not even get started on the portrayal of women in the film, or we will be here all day. Fans of the franchise are sure to be delighted, but if you were not convinced by Kingsman: The Secret Service, then this new sequel is certainly not for you.