I’m apparently in the minority, but I wasn’t a fan of 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service. As much as the film tried to convince us that it was self-aware, I found it to be a rather paint by numbers spy flick with little originality or substance, kept adrift only by some charismatic performances and memorable action scenes. It’s with this same feeling that I’m so happy to say that it’s sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, is a complete blast, filled with a kickass soundtrack, fun performances, and a surprising amount of heart.
After an attack on the Kingsman headquarters, Eggsy (Taron Edgerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) are forced to unite with the American Statesman in an attempt to stop the evil drug kingpin Poppy (Julianne Moore). Edgerton, Strong, and the revived Colin Firth continue the entertaining charisma that made the characters pop initially, and while The Golden Circle is definitely more ridiculous as its predecessor, the characters seem to have stronger personal dilemmas, and the film has much more heart, culminating in a particularly powerful moment for Strong’s character.
The Statesman are somewhat underused, but for as advertising as Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, and Halle Berry received from the marketing campaign, Pedro Pascal is the standout of the crew, providing a great relationship with Edgerton and some of the film’s best stunts. The characters and action were the two things the first film managed to nail, and The Golden Circle brings both to life, with an eclectic cast of characters and action stunt so ridiculous and goofy that they’re utterly delightful.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is perhaps about fifteen minutes too long, and features a few subplots that go nowhere (a particularly unnecessary amount of time is spent with Eggsy and his girlfriend), but where The Secret Service was a smug, generic film no more ridiculous or self aware than the Roger Moore Bond films it was parodying, The Golden Circle embraces the crazy, yet keeps the class. With a soundtrack including Prince, John Denver, and Elton John, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is one of the most delightfully weird and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Grade: B