Have a royal good time with ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’

Sometimes, if we are lucky, a sequel can be better than it’s predecessor. But even rarer are the times when extenuating circumstances elevate a sequel higher than their predecessor.

For example (and this is my confession, preacher): I enjoyed National Treasure: Book of Secrets mainly due to the fact that I have yet to see the first one. It was my first exposure to the over-the-top ridiculous American conspiracy story starring Nicolas Cage.

Thanks to nearly similar circumstances, I enjoyed Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

The first Kingsman was surprisingly popular and a big hit with audiences. It was stylish, violent, vulgar, and a tad subversive when comparing it to the material it was trying to subverse. I saw it on my brand new MacBook Air while working in London this past summer.

This new Kingsman didn’t stray too far from the original’s formula, except for the fact that everything in this movie was bigger, not excluding the fact that I saw it on an IMAX screen.

Now, granted, the manner in which you watch the movie should not affect the overall quality or assessment of the movie. However, as a friend and I have discussed on multiple occasions, some movies beg you to see them in theaters and some movies can be appreciated no matter what medium on which you choose to view it. In this day and age where you can view entire movies on your iPhone, the latter statement should hold up the most. But if you watch Kingsman: The Golden Circle on your iPhone while waiting for your plane to take off, something is most definitely lost in translation.

This new Kingsman takes place one year after the events of the last movie. Odd choice, but  Matthew Vaughn (who directs as well as shares writing credits with Jane Goldman here) has proven to be a director who makes bold choices in hopes that spectacle can suffice for entertainment. Eggsy aka Galahad is now dating the princess he rescued and is a full-fledged Kingsman. After the return of a former foe, now equipped with a robotic arm, manages to hack into the Kingsman system and kill everyone involved except Eggsy, Merlin, and a somehow salvaged Harry aka Galahad (Colin Firth reprising his role), these named people seek vengeance. Julianne Moore plays our main villain, a cartel queen with a hunger for 50s nostalgia (even though she is a fan of Elton John, Happy Days, and Grease) as well as world dominance.

This character may have been the most confused. Something tells me Vaughn wanted to have fun with this character and it is a fairly original one to boot. But he and Goldman may not have had a cohesive mind on where to take her. As a result, Moore delivers a performance that comes off as more light-hearted than sinister.

I’ve read some of my contemporaries reviews of this movie, not to aide in this review, but to see why this Kingsman is garnering the reception it has. One of the more scathing ones in by Glenn Kenny at rogerebert.com who calls the film “life-hating.” I disagree entirely.

While the first Kingsman strutted with confidence and held together rather well, I will admit that this new Kingsman can come off like a hollow, empty shell of the first one. The best moments are the ones where we are taken down new avenues and are really exposed to what Matthew Vaughn had envisioned for a Kingsman sequel. By killing off most of the main cast, I believe this is what he was hoping to achieve.

We jump from million-dollar set to million dollar set piece and, if you can buy in to this world, you should sit back and be taken by them. They are used to their full capabilities. Kingsman: The Golden Circle does feel like a personal passion project for Matthew Vaughn. You can feel his hand on the magic wand of cinema in every scene.

The movie runs 2 hours and 20 minutes. It could have been much shorter. There a sub-sub-story involving one of the president’s staff which could have easily been cut.

One of the film’s other problems is that much of it is a celebration of American motifs. Why does Merlin’s favorite singer have to be John Denver? Why did Eggsy have to sit at a bar and drink a bottled beer instead of the classy, specific drinks every Kingsman spoke highly of in the first film?

But at its heart, there is still wit, irreverence, and entertainment value without.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is certainly not one of the best movies of the year nor is it even one of the best movies I’ll probably watch this weekend. However, it is entertaining and a lot of fun.

If anything, Matthew Vaughn should have wandered over to the Baywatch set and showed them how a celebrity cameo should act. Elton John delivers some truly funny lines and moments.

End note: This year, Logan Lucky, Free Fire, and now Kingsman: The Golden Circle have tributes to John Denver. I like John Denver, but there are other singers and other songs by Denver.


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