Review: Kingsman The Golden Circle rehashes the first film but bigger and longer
- Credit: Archant
Matthew Vaughn and co-writer Jane Goldman who turned Kingsman comics into raucous action thriller, laden with gratuitous violence and casual disregard for political correctness, return with a globetrotting sequel.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (15)
Even though Matthew Vaughn had yet to put a foot wrong in an impressive directorial career, and the original 2014 prole-upstart-becomes-world-saver-in-chief-at-clandestined-but-snooty-secret-service romp seemed to have plenty of potential left.
Kingsman 2 messes up in the old traditional ways that sequels always used to mess up in but rarely do now – it rehashes all the elements of the first film but bigger and longer.
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A whole host of very big, and very credible, American stars are drafted in for what are largely just cameos. After the entire Kingsman organisation is destroyed, the two survivors — Gary Unwin aka Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and tech support guru Merlin (Mark Strong), pop over to America, meet their Stateside counterparts, The Statesmen, borrow some gadgets and then largely ignore them.
The only new face to make any impact is Pedro Pascal (best known from TV's Game of Thrones and Narcos) but his Burt Reynolds beefcake send up is undercut by him being given Wonder Woman's magic lasso.
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Everybody is brought back from the first film, including, of course, Colin Firth as Kingsman mentor Harry Hart. The rationale for this would have been that even though he was shot in the head in the previous film, you just couldn't do Kingsman without him, and he was worth the credibility stretch of bringing him back.
I'd agree but it is probably the film's biggest misstep, because they then give him the amnesia plot line, where we have to wait and wait for him to remember who he was. For crying out loud, who has time for the amnesia plotline? Just get on with it.
Also though Firth is impressively lean for a man in his late fifties he isn't in the least bit mean. He looks as creaky as View To A Kill Roger Moore and considerable digital assistance has been applied to get him through the action sequences.
But that is true of everyone. One of Vaughn's great gift has been to make films that looked like many million bucks more than actually cost, but this time this translates into lots of phoney chase and fight scenes with way too many digital effects.
The original film had enough invention and dark wit to make up for its cartoony look. It was an ugly vision in places, casually cruel and relentlessly cynical but its saving graces were three great scenes – the one in the church, the exploding heads, Michael Caine's last line – aligned with the subversive notion of suggesting the madmen bent on destroying most of the world's population may have a bit of a point, that made it special.
Nothing in the new one comes anywhere close. Yes there are laughs, there are some satirical jibes, some mild subversion and maybe that is enough to make for a good night out. For me though, this is the wrong kind of ugly.