If you thought “Kingsman: The Secret Service” was outlandish enough, you’re in for quite a ride with the sequel. “Kick-Ass” director Matthew Vaughn returns for “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and gets right to the action with a car chase through London with Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” blaring in the background.
The song sets the tone for the rest of the film as it goes crazy with deaths by meat grinder, robot dogs and a tracking device placed into (for lack of a better term) private parts. The first film was a good-natured ribbing at the sometimes-antiquated James Bond series, but the sequel goes off the rails.
For those who didn’t see the previous film or aren’t familiar with the Kingsman comic book series, the Kingsman, a secret British private intelligence agency, recruited Eggsy (Taron Egerton) to join the service. Unfortunately, Harry Hart (Colin Firth), who “My Fair Lady”-ed Eggsy and acted as a sort of father figure, is killed before the conclusion of the first film (or so we thought).
Eggsy is now a freshly minted Kingsman in a relationship with Princess Tilde of Sweden (Hanna Alström), who you may recall from the infamous closing sex scene in the original. While Eggsy is meeting Princess Tilde’s royal family, the Kingsmen are killed one by one with geo-targeted missiles launched by the villain of the film, Poppy (Julianne Moore). All that’s left of the Kingsmen is Eggsy and the tech guru named Merlin (Mark Strong).
Eggsy and Merlin initiate “doomsday protocol” and hop across the pond to the Kingsman’s American counterpart, the Statesman. Just as the Kingsman hide their agency under the guise of a posh tailoring shop on Savile Row, the Statesmen operate under the guise of a whiskey distillery in Kentucky.
Upon arriving, Eggsy discovers that Harry is still alive despite being shot point-blank in the head by Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the previous film. Although alive, Harry’s memory has been lost, but it’s restored when Eggsy triggers his memories by threatening to shoot a puppy that resembles Harry’s deceased dog, Mr. Pickles.
With Harry’s memory back, the Statesmen and the remaining Kingsmen team up to defeat Poppy, a maniacal drug lord who runs the world’s largest drug trafficking ring called the Golden Circle. Poppy announces in a world-wide broadcast that millions of drug users have been infected by a deadly virus, and an antidote will be given if the President of the U.S. (Bruce Greenwood) agrees to legalize her drugs.
The President plans to do nothing in response to Poppy’s threat, as he views it as a favor that would end the war on drugs. The Statesmen and Kingsmen learn this and travel to an Italian ski resort where boxes of the antidote are being kept. The resort serves as another homage to the Bond series as it bears resemblance to villain Ernst Blofeld’s hideout in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
All in all, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is a step down from its predecessor with a mostly unintelligible plot.
The resurrection of characters who were seemingly dead makes the audience question whether death really means anything in this series.
Many of the Statesmen (Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry) are deprived of any character depth and it becomes obvious that the introduction of the Statesman was an American twist used to help box office sales.
Despite these shortcomings, the cameo from Elton John — who seems to have more screen time than most of the Statesmen — is hysterical and definitely worth seeing.
Those who enjoyed the first film will likely enjoy the sequel, but those unfamiliar with Kingsman might find it too ridiculous.