Kingsman: The Golden Circle movie cast: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Julianne Moore, Hanna Alström, Edward Holcroft
Kingsman: The Golden Circle movie director: Matthew Vaughn
Kingsman: The Golden Circle movie rating: 1.5 stars
Writer-director Matthew Vaughn clearly likes his villains uncomplicated, and American. In Kingsman 1, a businessman called Valentine offered the world SIM cards for unlimited calls and Internet, which came with an ingrained chip that would blast those who signed up, thus culling the world’s population and making it a greener place. Now, a druglord called Miss Poppy, played by Moore as a deranged and chirpy afternoon-sitcom busybody, promises to do the world similar good by peddling contaminated drugs. You see, ‘dead drug consumers’ equals ‘victory on war on drugs’. The assumption underlying this juvenile plan is one, that much of the world is on drugs, and two, that the President in the White House likes problems with simple solutions.
A few years ago, none of the above, from a tycoon offering unlimited calls to a President clearing crazy plans, would be considered probable. Now, we can give Vaughn the benefit of doubt.
And little else.
Kingsman worked the first time around because it offered something new, and Colin Firth, in Savile Row suits, saving the world. The youthful Egerton’s effervescence gave the film a punch, allowed it to be subversive, and was a sly joke on James Bond and the ilk, while an embracement of all-that-is-British by a director who has been closely associated with Guy Ritchie (with little of that very British director’s flair).
Now Egerton is older, in an affair with of-all-people a Swedish princess, and spends the film playing catch-up with his American counterparts. Vaughn shows his hand and insecurity about the sequel by digging up all the ghosts, literally, of the first film. Firth, whose character Galahad had been shot in the head by Valentine, returns courtesy a “gel”, and so does a sidekick who didn’t even impress the first time around.
You can’t help but wonder if the impressive body count The Golden Circle is mounting wouldn’t return resurrected in the third film (yes, there is a third).
Coming back to the plot, a few years have passed since Galahad’s death, and the private agency of super-spies that calls itself Kingsman, and functions from a Savile Row tailor shop, has run into a mysterious outfit called The Golden Circle. Its head Miss Poppy soon blasts all but two of the kingsmen (Egerton and Strong), who discover that they must turn to their counterparts in America. Across the Atlantic, a spy agency with similar antecedents calls itself Statesman, and while the kingsmen are headed by Arthur and named after King Arthur’s knights, the statesmen take their names after drinks (Champagne, Whiskey, Tequila, Ginger Ale etc etc). The Kingsmen and statesmen must together go after Miss Poppy, who has a habit of putting rivals into grinders and setting robot dogs after them. The US President is game for her drug addicts-extinction plan, overriding his vice-president. She, incidentally, is a user herself, and explains it away as working 20-hour days (wow!).
Still, the fact that a lot of ambitions rest on the Kingsman franchise is clear from the star cast, which has now expanded to include Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, and Halle Berry. Even if Vaughn’s ambitions don’t go further than putting Tatum in briefs, resurrecting Firth in an eyepatch, and dressing up Elton John in a rainbow dress.
With drugs, piano and one kick-ass scene for recreation, at least Elton John is clearly having fun.