‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ Review: A Superb Expansion Of The World

Kingsman

Eggsy (Taron Egerton), Harry (Colin Firth), Merlin (Mark Strong) and The Kingsmen are back and this time they are teaming up with their American counterparts, The Statesmen (led by Jeff Bridges), to take down a shady criminal enterprise known as The Golden Circle, led by Poppy (Julianne Moore), a megalomaniacal drug dealer with a love for 1950s Americana.

I absolutely loved Matthew Vaughn’s first Kingsman movie, which was based on the comic book The Secret Service by Mark Millar and Dave Gibbons, and I was ecstatic that Vaughn was returning to direct the sequel (a first in his career). The only question now is, how does Kingsman: The Golden Circle stack up compared to its predecessor? Read on to find out…

First and foremost, I’d like to talk about the cast. All of your favorites from the first movie are back, including a handful of characters that I wasn’t actually expecting to see return. I won’t go into great detail for all of these, as this is a non-spoiler review and I don’t really want to ruin anything that wasn’t given away in the trailers, but I will say that there is one character from the first movie in this one that was actually in the trailer and I didn’t even recognize them. I really liked the way this particular character was brought back and used in this film too.

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When the first film was released in 2014, Taron Egerton was pretty much an unknown quantity, but his performance as Eggsy has made him one of those up-and-coming actors that we should all keep an eye on. Egerton does not disappoint in his return to this franchise. He is just as charming and likeable as he was in the first Kingsman. The character seems to have grown up a bit between the two films, taking on his old mentor’s codename, Galahad, but his signature streetwise cheekiness is still there. I was very much looking forward to seeing how this character’s life had changed since the first movie and I was pleased to see that, while many things in his life have changed, and even improved, he’s still the same old Eggsy.

Again, avoiding any spoilers that aren’t already revealed in the trailers and other marketing materials, I will just say that it was awesome to see Colin Firth return as Harry Hart, the man who first recruited Eggsy. I won’t say how he was brought back after getting shot in the head by Samuel L. Jackson’s character Richmond Valentine in the first film, but I thought it worked pretty well within the heightened comic book/spy movie reality of this series. I also liked the way he was utilized in the story and his arc in the film.

Other returning Kingsman include Mark Strong as Merlin, who delivers just as good of a performance as he did in The Secret Service, and Sophie Cookson is also back as Roxy. I really liked the way her character was used in the first movie. It would have been incredibly easy to just make her Eggsy’s love interest, but having her instead be his best friend and the one that actually made it all the way through the Kingman’s training process where as Eggsy did not was a much stronger move in the first film. As far as this film goes, however, I would have liked for her to have a more significant role to play.

This time around, the Kingsmen must team up with their American “cousins,” known as the Statesmen, and just as the Kingsmen have a specific, Arthurian theme to their codenames, they too have their own naming convention befitting of their organization. The always fantastic Jeff Bridges is great as Champagne, the somewhat laid-back leader of the Stateman, something that this Dude does really well. Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones‘ Oberyn Martell) is awesome as Whiskey and I loved his expert use of both a lasso and a whip in his asskickery. I also really liked Halle Berry as Ginger Ale, Stateman’s equilavent of the Kingsman’s Merlin. Her inclusion in the film alone is a nice wink and a nod to her time as a Bond Girl in Die Another Day — I just wished she was used a bit more in the film.

The final member of the Statesman is Channing Tatum’s Tequila. I thought he was excellent in the role, but I didn’t love how he was used in the film, for the most part. I could have used more of him too. Honestly, after seeing him in this film, for the first time, I’m actually a bit more interested in seeing him as Gambit. I was never really all that sold on his casting before, but now I think I would be down to see it. He encorporates a great southern accent into his role as Taquila and with a bit of a tweak to it, it could easily be made to sound more like Remy LeBou’s signature Cajun twang. Now, I just really want to hear what Tatum’s Gambit would sound like.

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The Kingsman movies are very much a loving response to the greatest of the spy genre, mostly the Bond franchise, and what makes a great Bond movie more than a great Bond villain? All the best Bond villains are over-the-top and eccentric, and I love the way that this series encorporates these types of Bond-esque villains. Julianne Moore is delightful as this film’s antagonist, Poppy. She has this wonderful facination with 1950s nostalgia. I got a huge kick out of her secret hideout, Poppyland, a slice of ’50s Americana nestled in the middle of these jungle ruins, complete with an old-school diner, a theater, a salon and more. This place is the perfect embodiment of Moore’s quirky, almost bubbly performance as the character. Honestly, she would be outright adorable if it wasn’t for her whole evil plan that puts a large percentage of the population in jeopardy. I would say Poppy easily stands toe-to-toe with Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine, just without the lisp, which was something that was a bit tough for me to fully get behind.

With each film he makes, Matthew Vaughn rises higher and higher on my personal list of favorite directors. I have yet to see a film he’s directed that I did not love and I am overjoyed to add Kingsman: The Golden Circle to that list. He and his frequent collaborator Jane Goldman did a fantastic job with the script. Sequels are hard to pull off well, but so much about this film just worked for me. There were a ton of fantastic nods to the first film. I tend to rewatch all prior films before I see a movie so most of these were pretty easy to spot for me, but if you haven’t seen the first Kingman in a while, I would suggest revisiting it before checking this one out to pick up on all of the great Easter eggs and references. Don’t worry, though, everything significant to the plot is presented in a way that refreshes one’s memory.

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I did have a few issues, but nothing that hampered my overall enjoyment of the film. There were a couple of characters that I would have liked to have seen a bit more of. Also, the first film had that amazing Church sequence, which, for me, was an instant classic action sequence, but this one does not have anything that stands out as much as that scene did. The action is still excellent, but it’s a bit more spread out in this film. The opening action sequence is terrific, but after that it’s a bit of a long stretch before any significant action beats take place. However, when they do, they do not seem to slow down in the least bit. While the film may be a bit on the lengthy side, it doesn’t really drag either. I was fully engaged with the story the whole way through. Finally, I will say that this film is a bit lighter on the comedy side than I would have prefered. There’s certainly a good amount of humor, but I just didn’t find myself laughing out loud as much as I did the first time around. Again, though, there were plenty of other things going on to keep my interest. There was one overly graphic moment, however, that a went a bit too far and I felt was a tiny bit unnecessary.

Overall, I didn’t like Kingsman: The Golden Circle quite as much as I liked the first film, but it’s pretty damn close. While it may not be as solid as its predecessor, it is at least worthy of the Kingsman name. It was a fantastic expansion of the world introduced in the first film and I’m hoping we’ll see more of this franchise in the years to come. I somewhat doubt Matthew Vaughn will return, though, especially considering that this is the first sequel he’s ever made, but I certainly would love if he did come back for one more and make it a trilogy. If you loved the first Kingsman as much as I did (which was a whole hell of a lot), I think you’ll really enjoy this film.

Score: 8.5/10

Kingsman: The Golden Circle hits theaters September 22, 2017.

7 Movies Still Worth Catching In Theaters In 2017

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Thor Ragnarok Justice League MoviesThe summer movie season may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some amazing films still coming out this year! It just opened the fall box office with a bang, earning the highest opening for a horror film, and there are quite a few films set to follow its lead. The holiday season in particular is always a great time for movies, with Oscar contenders and big-budget family-friendly movies being released simultaneously.

Of course, the movies on this list aren’t the only films coming out this year — they’re just some of the ones with the biggest marketing budget, making it easier for people to know they are coming out soon. So, if none of these movies seem interesting to you, do a little research and see if there are any great independent or foreign films coming to your local theaters!

Hit Next to learn about seven movies still worth seeing this year!

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Jeff Grantz

Jeff Grantz

Jeff Grantz is an Atlanta-based writer, filmmaker and host of The Amazing Nerdiverse Podcast (on iTunes and YouTube).