"Kingsman: The Golden Circle" Review
2015's "Kingsman: The Secret Service" was packed with stars, had a fresh action vibe and a couple of big surprises. This sequel provides more of the same. It's just a question of how much more of the same you can tolerate.
Former rookie Kingsman Eggsy (played by Taron Egerton) is now a veteran agent. He's still mourning the loss of his boss and friend Harry (Colin Firth), who died in the first "Kingsman" movie. But if you've seen the trailers for "The Golden Circle", you know Firth is brought back. The way that's done is one of the few "cool" elements of the film.
In the original, Samuel L. Jackson was the villain who concocted a scheme that threatened the lives of millions of people around the world. This time, it's Julianne Moore. She plays Poppy, a kooky drug dealer who... concocts a scheme that threatens the lives of millions of people around the world.
She wipes-out each of the Kingsman facilities in and around London, killing all the agents in the process, except for Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong). So they join forces with their American counterparts, the Statesman, who are based in Kentucky. Halle Berry, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges play three of the members.
"Kingsman 2" features twice as many major characters and twice as much action as the first film. That's not a good thing. Moore's Poppy is a very weak villain. She's secluded in a far away location and doesn't interact with the others until the finale. Tatum and Bridges are barely in the movie at all... especially compared to Sir Elton John. The music superstar plays a cartoonish version of himself in at least a half-dozen scenes. None of them really hit the right notes.
It is nice to have Firth back, and his relationships with Egerton and Strong provide "The Golden Circle"'s calmest and most enjoyable scenes. There are also some effective ties and references to the original that almost bring the series full circle - though the door is clearly left open for a third chapter.
Returning director Matthew Vaughn plays to what made the first "Kingsman" a major success, and why it quickly built a large and loyal following: graphic, comedic violence and over-stylized, comic book action. Some of the sequences are visually striking, but there are just too many of them (some back-to-back) - unnecessarily bloating the runtime.
Walking out, I felt just about the same as I did after the first movie: passably entertained but not blown away.