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Kingsman: The Golden Circle is Tarnished

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Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

Written by Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman (based on the graphic novel “The Secret Service” by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons)

Starring: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Julianne Moore, and Jeff Bridges

A promising series stopped short due to a underwhelming sequel is a shame. Especially after the same team that messed up Kick-Ass in the same way. Kingsman made a big splash, coming out of nowhere in early 2015, kickstarting a year featuring 3 satirical, well-made spy films: Kingsman, Spy, and Man from U.N.C.L.E.  Also featured was the dullest Bond film: Spectre. The three send-ups out-Bonded Bond with Kingsman in particular was a love letter to the best of Roger Moore era; goofy fun action-set-pieces, large scale destroy the world villain plan, an equally outlandish villain (scenery chewing Samuel L. Jackson), and a gimmicked henchman (stabby-stab-footed Sophia Boutella).  Unfortunately Kingsman: The Golden Circle pulls from the worst of the Moore era.

Most of what made Kingsman work is not present. The previous entry did a great deal to earn the audience’s affection. Eggsy’s journey from lower class hoodlum with a heart of gold to mannered man with kick-ass fighting skills was populated by charming and interesting characters, fantastic action sequences and a sense of tongue-in-cheek fun that never dipped too far into parody. It really helps we feel for Eggsy, thanks to a Taron Egerton introducing performance in which he really holds his own among Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Samuel L. Jackson.  Kingsman: The Golden Circle undoes all that built-up goodwill.

The characters are mistreated. Eggsy has no forward motion; there is a bit of a story about his relationship with Princess Tilde but it’s empty.  Roxy? Killed off screen. Michael Gambon? One and done. Merlin is paired down to exposition and jokes.  The new characters barely register, particulally the much-advertised Statesmen. Some retooling and they could have been cut entirely.  Channing Tatum is just above his G.I. Joe: Retaliation cameo. Lead agent Whiskey barely registers as a presence, let alone as a character. Jeff Bridges performs ninety percent of his scenes sitting in a chair sniffing a cigar, with Big Lebowski co-star Julianne Moore wasted as villain Polly. Moore does what she can but the material is so badly written it comes off stilted and awkward. This time the big quirk is on her; she has a nostalgia boner for the 50s. There is no need and it comes off as distracting. She also has a thing for Elton John; a joke the movie leans on way to much.

As for the plot, what of it? In the beginning of the third act, Polly plays her hand for everyone in the world to see. “Finally,” the audience thinks, “we can point the good guys at the bad guys and end this movie,” as the heroes were mostly in the dark, bumbling their way around until the villain literally tells them what they need to do. This muddled flow of plot may be excused if it was fun to watch. It’s not.

It starts fun, with a well made car chase, but doesn’t follow up with another action scene until after a good hour of floundering about. That next sequence is short and underwhelming and leads no where plot wise. As the movie shambles to conclusion there are many more sequences, but nothing that comes close to the Church Fight of the first film. All suffer from awful 90s era greenscreen and low-rent CGI additions. These more than anything, make the film feel lesser and cheap.

Sadly, the film is lesser and cheaper. It’s a generic action film with the skin of a better movie placed on top of it. Too long at two hours, twenty, with underwhelming action scenes, unremarkable characters, and wasting every great actor roped into appearing it, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is tarnished.

Grade: D

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