Sequels. Worst case scenario, they’re pointless cash ins, the first film did well, we might as well try banking on the name recognition. Very rarely are they as good as the first. Take for example Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2. A good film for sure, but not nearly as good as the first.
I own the first Kingsman film on bluray, thanks to a coupon I got it for free. The plan was to watch it again before I see Golden Circle in theaters, but of course I forgot. I think I watched Killing Gunther instead. An action comedy featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger… for the last 20 minutes.
I love the first Kingsman film. I thought it was clever and absurd, Golden Circle however… maybe just absurd? My local paper gave the film 1 star. And that mostly lines up with the few reviews I’ve seen of this film as well. My opinion however is, it’s a lot better than the critics are making it out to be.
Is it as good as the first film? Hell no. But no way is it a 1 star film. You know what a 1 star film looks like? Transformers: The Last Knight. It’s easy to pick on that franchise but there’s some mindless fun to be had with a few of the films. But Last Knight is just complete garbage that makes zero fucking sense. It’s also the shortest of the films yet still feels like the longest.
So that’s my mini review of Transformers: The Last Knight. It gets a SKIP IT!
Also, I’m implementing a new rating system. Where before I didn’t really have one. The system consists of three ratings: SEE IT, RENT IT and finally SKIP IT. They’re a bit self-explanatory. SEE IT means it is worth going to the theater to see like Baby Driver. RENT IT means it was good but probably not worth the price of theater tickets, I’d actually put Atomic Blonde under that category. And SKIP IT, meaning well, don’t bother seeing it either way like for example Last Knight. Hope that clears things up for you, I wanted to make the ratings pretty simple.
Now back to Kingsman.
I didn’t hate The Golden Circle, in fact I enjoyed it. But it’s one of those sequels where you need to have seen the first to really know what the hell is going on. Sometimes sequels can get away with skipping the original completely. Like The Devil’s Rejects. You don’t need to have seen House of 1000 Corpses to know what is going on… or a better example that more people are familiar with, Road Warrior and Aliens.
Golden Circle starts you right out of the gate with a face from the first film Charlie. He was in the Kingsman program but flunked out. He then later joins with the bad guys, taking up shelter as the world goes nuts. He is later defeated by Eggsy, losing an arm in the process.
Now Charlie is working for Poppy, played by Julianne Moore. Who is 56 right now. Wow is she still gorgeous.
Poppy is a lunatic drug dealer kingpin. Her base of operation is out in the middle of the jungle in an old Mayan temple. Of course she made a few improvements. You see, Poppy is obsessed with the 1950’s. She has her guards dressed like milkmen and ice cream jerks from that era. Most of Poppy’s time is usually spent in the 50’s style diner, surrounded by her robot dogs, yes there are robot dogs.
If she isn’t feeding a goon into a meat grinder, she’s in the theater listening to a kidnapped Elton John as he performs against his will for her amusement.
Anyway, back to Charlie.
Charlie has gotten some upgrades since the last time we saw him. Like for example, he now has a menacing robot arm.
He confronts Eggsy and a chase ensues. I know the cliché thing about sequels is they always have to be bigger and more action packed. But to start off with such a giant battle in the first few seconds of the film seemed too on the nose. I get Kingsman has this kind of satirical take of spy films, almost mocking them. But this felt like they were trying to be one of those cliché action spy movies.
Of course Eggsy gets the better of Charlie, ripping off his robot arm and blowing up his pursuers. But Eggsy has a very important date that he really can’t miss. He seems to now be dating the Swiss, I think she’s Swiss, the Swiss Princess Tilde. You might remember her from the first film who offered anal sex to Eggsy if he saved the day.
From what I hear though that part was censored out from the European version. So you might not know what I’m talking about. It’s the age of Youtube, of course you know what I’m talking about.
Now that I listen to her talk, they must have toned down her accent in the sequel. It’s the same actress but her accent is considerably thicker in the first film.
Anyone remember Burn Notice and how Fiona’s Irish accent was toned down from the pilot?
So Poppy has an evil plan, she wants to poison the world’s drugs, making it fatal to use them. And if the US wants to stop the deaths of millions of people, they have to abolish the war of drugs, making her drug empire legal. Only problem with that is, they got a redneck in the white house that sees this more of her doing the world a favor but eradicating the drug problem in the US. I’m not sure why they didn’t go Trump, I mean they did explode Obama’s head in the first film, so you know they aren’t shy about this kind of thing. I was thinking they gave Trump AIDS in the first film too, but then I remember I was mixing that up with The Brothers Grimsby. But to be fair they both star Mark Strong as spies, so easy mistake.
Thanks to Charlie’s robot arm, the Golden Circle, what Poppy calls her drug cartel, are able to infiltrate and locate every Kingsman location and base of operations.
So we might be getting into some spoilers here. But it is kind of important because it’s what I have the most issue with. The way this film kills off main characters.
In the first film, Roxy was Eggsy’s best friend. You’d think they’d have this romance thing but nope, they never went there with the relationship. She was just his friend, never played as a love interest and I liked that. That’s something Bond could never do, just be friends with a woman and not hit on her.
But in the Golden Circle, she is instantly killed off. And to really make you hate the villains, they also blow up Eggsy’s dog. Oh and one of his friends that no one cares about.
The death of Roxy was just so shitty. I think she might have had a total of 3 lines in the whole film. I’m not even exaggerating, she only says about 3 lines of dialogue before she is horribly killed off.
And that trend continues throughout the film. Later on, Merlin also dies fucking horribly and for no reason. And then! Okay, so now I really am getting into spoilers, THEN Whiskey a member of the Statesman gets horrifically killed and we are meant to be happy with it because he reveals himself to be a bad guy… sorta. He has a tragic past, his pregnant wife got murdered by methheads looking for money to score more meth. Ever since then he’s had this strong sense of justice, so when Poppy makes this idiotic plan to basically kill off her entire customer base, he sees a way to rid the world of methheads and people alike.
And for this he gets tossed into the meat grinder and we are meant to cheer. It felt unnecessarily mean.
You might be asking yourself, well what about Channing Tatum? He’s in this, right? I mean, he’s in all the trailers so he must be pretty prominent throughout, right? Let’s just say Elton John has a bigger role in this film than Channing Tatum does.
The guy is barely in it. He gets sick from the poisoned drugs going around so he’s out of commission through a majority of the film. I’d say he only has a few minutes of screen time. The same goes for Jeff Bridges as well.
Really the one who gets the most screen time is the guy who plays Whiskey like I mentioned. You might remember him from Narcos if you watch that on Netflix and you should because it’s great.
But he’s barely featured in the trailers, hell I had no idea he was in this until he popped up looking like Burt Reynolds.
Now that the Kingsman have all but been destroyed, Eggsy and Merlin seek out the “doomsday protocol”. In case of events like this, the founders put things in motion. The Statesman, Kingsman’s American counterpart.
Instead of going into the clothing retail business, the Statesman went into the booze business. The members are even codenamed after different cocktails. And surprise surprise, they are holding Colin Firth’s character Harry. He was shot in the face in the first film by Samuel L. Jackson. The Statesman has a technology that allows them to save agents who have been shot in the head. It’s a film with robotic guard dogs, just roll with it.
Anyway, the found Harry and used it on him. Unfortunately, the process gives the patient amnesia. Harry has no idea he’s a spy, only remembering his life before joining the army where he wanted to just be a lepidopterists, someone who studies butterflies.
The poison in the tainted drugs have 3 or 4 stages before death. First it gives you blue stretchmarks, then it makes you dance, then it paralyzes you. Then your eyes explode and you die. Eggsy’s girlfriend gets infected so now he has an even more serious ticking clock to motivate him.
Get the antidote or Princess Tilde dies! And the way this film is killing off characters, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do it.
There is a particular bizarre scene where Eggsy has to seduce Charlie’s ex-girlfriend so he can plant a tracking device inside her vagina. It’s fucking stupid. If people had issue with the whole fuck my asshole scene in the first film, they’re going to get up in arms over this scene. It wasn’t funny and served no real point to the plot other than to break up Eggsy and Princess Tilde.
Also, why would you make a tracking device that only works if it is inserted? That sounds poorly designed. The Statesman do run a whiskey business so maybe they were drunk when they came up with it.
They are then able to track Charlie’s ex to the facility where they are keeping the antidote. The plan is to sneak in and steal a sample so they can work out their own cure and not surrender to Poppy’s demands.
But of course everything goes to shit.
Harry is back on the team, now missing an eye and seeing imaginary butterflies everywhere. But he’s back, baby! There are a few jokes with his depth perception being slightly off that got a few laughs… since I’m on the topic, I’ve seen a few comedies at the theater. But not a single one of those films got the intensity of laughter from the audience this film got. I’m not saying it wasn’t warranted, the parts that got the audience up roaring with laughter were funny and had me laughing as well. They weren’t jokes I can just describe and you’ll start laughing too, it’s kind of a ‘you’d have to of seen it’ kind of deal.
First involved an old folks home at the bottom of a hill as a ski lift is rocketing towards them. The second giant laugh actually came from Elton John.
The first film had that famous or should I say infamous scene with Colin Firth in that church. Golden Circle tries to replicate that but this time in Poppy’s 50’s style base of operation. One thing about this film is it seems less violent as the first, everything felt slightly bloodless. It’s violent, sure. But no to the extent of the first film. Granted though, they did explode a bunch of heads in that movie.
I mean, not once but twice we are treated to people getting shoved into a meat grinder and not a speck of blood anywhere. The most graphic things got were when we saw what the final stage of the poisoned drug does. Eye popping.
But the final action sequence was pretty amazing. That’s one thing this film has going for it. It looks amazing. The action sequences are some of the best, they aren’t surrounded in realism like say Atomic Blonde, but is more… well comicbooky. For a film like this, that’s perfect.
For my final rating I’m giving it a SEE IT. It might not be as good as the first, but it is still entertaining as hell and exciting enough that it warrants seeing in theaters.