One year after the events of the first film, The Kingsmen, a secret British spy organization, find themselves quickly depleted, with a series of bombs killing all but two members: Eggsy, codename Galahad (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong). As the survivors investigate the bombings, they join forces with the Statesmen, a similarly secret American spy organization, in order to defeat the mysterious Golden Circle, a drug organization led by Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore).
This movie is absurd in every way. Almost nothing makes sense. It has a character use shockingly and needlessly graphic methods in order to place a tracker inside of another human being. Characters are shot at point blank range, resuscitated with some retrograde amnesia, which is then corrected through the reliving of a trauma. The villain lethally poisons her clientele’s drugs, in efforts to decriminalize drugs. The action is shot in a nauseatingly frenetic manner. Channing Tatum, who is basically the star of the advertising, is frozen before we get to see him in action. This movie does almost everything wrong.
And I loved every second of it. This movie is deeply, deeply stupid, and the stupidity of it all played me like a fiddle. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t understand why critics dislike this move on an artistic level. The script is nonsense. The direction and cinematography throw the audience around action sequences as if the camera is the recipient of every hit instead of the actors. But all of this is so deliriously fun, I also can’t understand how people dislike this movie. Yes, I understand that a movie can be fun, and artfully executed (see Baby Driver or Mad Max Fury Road (my favorite movie from 2015), and if those movies can pull off that combination, then it is possible for all movies to do so. But I also understand that there is a shootout in this movie that is set to Elton John’s “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting,” and that shootout occasionally cuts to a different, nearby action scene that includes the actual Elton John kicking the snot out of some henchmen. And that is the happiest I have ever been writing a sentence in my entire life.
There are things that this movie does correctly, as well. The cast is, once again, remarkably charming. Egerton quickly broke onto the scene when he portrayed Eggsy in 2014, and winked his way into my heart, and he does the same here.
Egerton also does some solid emotional work here. The 2014 original film saw Eggsy lose his father figure/commanding officer, Harry Hart (Colin Firth, who returns, resurrected through gloriously stupid plot magic). Early on in the film, Eggsy’s girlfriend, Princess Tilde of Sweden (Hanna Alström) mentions that she would have loved to meet Harry, and Egerton turns away for a private moment of emotion. It’s a heavy-handed moment of writing, but Egerton still pulls it off beautifully. I don’t think Egerton will ever be an Oscar-bait actor (although, I’ve been surprised before), but I’m excited to see him charm his way into my heart over the next several years.
The rest of the cast around Egerton does serviceable work, as well. Mark Strong has played outright villains in Sherlock Holmes and Kick-Ass, as well as pseudo-villains in Stardust and Green Lantern, so his role as the benevolent Merlin was a bit against type in 2014, and I thought he did well. That continues with this film, as he steals small moments, from sobbing over a bottle of whiskey to his bittersweet performance of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” (used better here than in Alien: Covenant. Then again, it’s hard to do anything worse than Alien: Covenant). Moore has a helluva lot of fun as Poppy, even if her plan is utter nonsense. Elton John does not seem comfortable delivering a lot of his dialogue, but it is a total and complete joy to hear him drop the f-bomb at every opportunity, and the look on his face when he breaks the fourth wall during an over-the-top karate move is the image I want on my gravestone (next to giant Kurt Russell fighting giant Pac-Man from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2). The American characters are all more or less wasted, but watching Jeff Bridges smell every cigar, Channing Tatum dance in a drug-induced mania, and Pedro Pascal twirl an electric whip will never not make me happy, so I’ll take what I can get.
The score by Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson very rarely stands out, but the soundtrack’s use of the aforementioned “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting” and “Take Me Home Country Roads,” as well as Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” stand out well enough to mostly blot out a lacking score. I will say, the orchestrated version of “Take Me Home Country Roads” was a nice little capper to the film’s climax, especially considering how it pairs with Strong’s performance of the song.
So, yes. This is a bad movie in so many ways. And I love it for that.
Resources Kingsman: The Golden Circle Wikipedia Page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingsman:_The_Golden_Circle Mark Strong's Wikipedia Page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Strong Photo Credits Header Image https://img.hdo-cdn.ru/2017/09/22/cover/fa5a92b52eb71c59e134a038c691251c-kingsman-the-golden-circle.jpg Red Herring http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/redherring.gif Egerton Wink https://giant.gfycat.com/ObviousMajesticAardwolf.gif Dancing K Gif https://media.giphy.com/media/3o6UBlHJQT19wSgJQk/giphy.gif