‘I’ On Culture
It is not surprising that Kingsman: The Golden Circle was made. Its predecessor, Kingsman: The Secret Service, was a charming, successful parody of the James Bond films. The hero was a bullied kid who is taught all sorts of ways to kill and, even more importantly, to dress, but is fired because, not being a sociopath, he refuses to kill his dog. But he is called on to save the world and does, winning a princess in the bargain.
In the new movie, our hero Eggsy (Taron Egerton) finds that his whole agency, except for himself and tech genius Merlin (Mark Strong), have been destroyed by drug kingpin Poppy (Julianne Moore). They flee to the United States and join up with Statesman, their agency’s counterpart, which uses the front of being a top distillery. It is remarkably similar in some ways: in Kingsman, agents are code-named using the Knights of the Round Table, and in Statesman, they are named for drinks. The leader Champagne (Jeff Bridges), after rescuing them from agent Tequila (Channing Tatum), introduces them to the American tech wizard Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), who asks if they can help identify an agent they rescued from certain death a year earlier. He, of course, is Harry Hart (Colin Firth), long thought dead and now delusional.
Poppy goes on the air with a demand to the U.S. President (Bruce Greenwood) and other world leaders. She has spread a plague through all of her drug products and if they are decriminalized, she will not release the antidote. Eggsy and Harry, along with top American agent Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), are sent to take her down.
Mixed into all of this is the President’s plan to not legitimize drugs despite his promises, killing all drug users and thus the drug trade, as well as a betrayal or two, particularly of the President’s Chief of Staff Fox (Emily Watson). Also making an appearance somehow is Elton John. Eventually, of course, the good guys win.
The film is enjoyable but far too cute. A wink here and there is good, but this film almost has one eye closed. The names are far too cute. The big-name actors are around only for a short time. Watson has no more than a handful of lines. The President actually crosses his fingers behind his back as he lies.
Even the set pieces look as if they’re done on the cheap. Poppy’s jungle hideout is at the start of the film in South America and later in Cambodia. And it doesn’t look exotic at all, not surprising since it is a sort of replica of Happy Days. But the film does move quickly and there is more than a bit of fun.
Egerton is fine as Eggsy, having grown into the part. Although he generally wins his fights, he is not a superhero. And, when at one point it looks like he might have to seduce the girlfriend of a key villain, he stops everything with the excuse of a bathroom break, to call his girlfriend, the princess he rescued in the first movie (Hanna Alström), asking for permission. That actually got a bit surreal.
Firth handles Harry well, having done far harder parts. Strong was very good as Merlin. But a few people really stand out. Pascal was very good as Whiskey. He carried off the swagger and the fighting skills, and when at one point he really had to put out some major emotions, he carried that off well. Elton John, playing himself, was actually rather good as Poppy’s unwilling prisoner, forced to play other people’s music on command. When the attack on the hideout took place, he (and I am certain there was good use of stunt doubles and special effects) really kicked some bad guy butt. That part was fun.
Moore was the really fun character. Despite behaving like a complete sociopath, she wanted acceptance as the greatest CEO of all time. She’s a mix between Martha Stewart and Dr. Frankenstein.
So, should you see the film? My answer is a qualified yes. This is a weak season for movies, and this is a fun way to spend a couple of hours. It is too cute by half, but the time went by quickly and a good time was had by all.