Matthew Vaughn returns to his new found, and maybe accidental franchise with KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE. This time around he assembles the Statesmen, made up of Channing Tatum, Pedro Pascal, Halle Berry, and Jeff Bridges who team up with returning cast members Colin Firth, Mark Strong, and Taron Egerton against the wickedly fun Julianne Moore as the drug lord Poppy, the villain of the film. Oh, and Elton John has an extended role as himself.
The first film was a lot of fun. It was better than most of us thought it would be, but that could have been due to the horrid first trailer for the original film. It had fantastic R rated action and comedy, the script was airtight, and the performances and story were a lot of fun. It had the church sequence which may be one of the finest critiques on a major sect of American culture. THE GOLDEN CIRCLE does it’s absolute best to revive those same elements from the first time, but consistently falls short and ends up being a bloated film with annoying pacing issues and good actors given poorly developed characters with an end result of the actor being suffocated by a flat script and boring motivations.
The film has been knocked as a James Bond knockoff. Sure, Vaughn has made quite a few homages and nods to the Bond franchise throughout his career, and there is plenty to enjoy within this film; yet THE GOLDEN CIRCLE almost plays like DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (without the guilty pleasure aspect). The classy and jovial momentum from the first film is lost in overly vapid and tongue in cheek American culture via the Statesmen. What seemed like a brilliant idea, the Kingsman receiving help from their American cousins just ends up being overly silly and obnoxious.
Channing Tatum, Halle Berry, and Jeff Bridges are given very little to do in the film. As opposed to constructing dimensional characters, they coast on their affability and star power. Pedro Pascal who is wonderful in NARCOS and GAME OF THRONES is unforgivably miscast as Whiskey, the Statesman that joins Firth and Egerton to take down the big bad, Julianne Moore.
Taron Egerton is the saving grace of the film, he builds upon the charisma he brought to the role in the first film, and his character feels more lived in, grown up. Mark Strong is excellent returning as Merlin, as is Colin Firth as Harry but they both suffer from the lack of development and originality that drags the new ensemble cast of the Statesman down to the point where it begins to feel like a chore to finish the film.
There’s cool action, snarky humor, and a bizarrely fun performance from Elton John, but there isn’t a lot going on. The sequel lacks many things, and while it tries so hard to make some sort of social commentary, the film suffers from a lack of direction and a cohesive narrative that made the first film so riveting. It’s not a bad film per say, but it’s really not that good either.
Review by Frank Mengarelli