Kingsman: The Golden Circle
I enjoyed 2014’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” a high-energy, amusing, if a bit violent story of The Kingsman, a super secret British crime-fighting ring that recruits a street kid named Eggsy who has mad skills, to join them. You might call it “My Fair Agent” as Harry Hart (Colin Firth at his suavy best), has to train said recruit not only in spy tricks but also table manners and suit-wearing. The spies have names like Lancelot and Merlin and the villain’s name was Valentine. So you kind of feel bad for Eggsy who clearly got shortchanged in the cool name department.
In “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” (R), Taron Egerton is back as Eggsy. Now he has pals, a lovely blonde girlfriend, who happens to be a princess, and a dog. What he doesn’t have is Firth, who was dispatched in the first Kingsman, or was he?
Anyway, things go south very quickly in this Kingsman. Eggsy gets attacked by a disgruntled Kingsman recruit, nice people die, many buildings blow up, and Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) end up in the U.S. where they team with their American counterpart, Statesman. I know it should be “The Statesmen” but it isn’t.
Statesman are fronted by a bourbon in Kentucky and led by an extra gravelly Jeff Bridges as Champagne. We know that Halle Berry is the brains because she wears a white coat and glasses. Channing Tatum is a folksy tough guy and Pedro Pascal, a lasso-swingin’ cowboy. They drink, swear and fight and did not go to finishing school. They’ve also come into possession of a character from the original Kingsman movie.
Meanwhile, somewhere in South America (I think), Poppy (Julianne Moore) runs a massive drug cartel called The Golden Circle. Always smiling and dressed like a 1950’s TV housewife, Poppy laments that she has to live in seclusion in her pop-art vintage village, just because she’s selling billions of dollars of illegal drugs. She wants drugs to be legal like alcohol and cigarettes. You might feel a tiny bit sorry for her if she hadn’t just put a former lackey in a meat grinder. Yes kids, a meat grinder. Oh and she has killer robot dogs, and she’s kidnapped Elton John (The Elton John in a funny but weird extended cameo) and forces him to sing his hits from the 70s for her.
Fed up with hiding out in the jungle, Poppy has a plan and poisons her own product. Users, including a few of the film’s major characters, develop a blue rash, and then will die if they don’t get the antidote. Poppy won’t release it until the President of the United States declares all drugs legal.
By now, you’ve guessed that there’s a lot going on in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.” Returning director Matthew Vaughn stuffs the movie with slow-motion violence, a bit of romance, gadgets, humor, double-crossing, music, and, as I mentioned earlier, Elton John. It’s a bit too jam-packed and at 141 minutes, more than a bit too long. Luckily, I had a nice kale salad and a comfy, reclining chair at CineBistro in Sarasota, where I try to see all my two-hour-plus movies.
All the actors in “Kingsman” are just fine and they certainly seem to be having a good time but their roles aren’t exactly demanding. Egerton is charming and fun. Once you get used to Moore smiling so much, she’s entertainingly threatening. Bridges and Strong can do this kind of thing in their sleep. Tatum and Berry are wasted. My favorite performance came from Pedro Pascal as Whiskey, bold but kind if sweet, he’s a wizard with a whip and more impulsive than his British counterparts.
If you liked the first “Kingsman” film, you should enjoy this one. I was a bit overwhelmed, preferring the funnier, less bloated original. Still, there’s about 58 minutes of great movie and a fabulous cover of Cameo’s classic “Word Up.” That’s just about enough for me to recommend it.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle 3 STARS