Pretty To Look At, But No One Is Manning The Chair (Kingsman: The Golden Circle review)

What do you do with a drunken sailor? What do you do with a drunken sailor? What do you do with a drunken sailor, early on the morning?

You kick him to the curb and tell him to sober up. Geez. It’s not that difficult people.

 

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017)

Cast: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Pedro Pascal
Director: Matthew Vaughn
released on blu-ray December 12, 2017
***** 4/10

IMDB: 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 51%, Audience Score 68%
The Guardian: */*****

Matthew Allard de Vere Drummond, better known as Matthew Vaughn, is an English director, writer and producer. He is best known for directing Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, Kingsman: The Secret Service and most recently, Kingsman: The Golden Circle. A pretty good track record if I do say so myself. Given that I own all of those movies, almost all of them are well rated, and I also like most of them. Unfortunately, The Golden Circle is the odd man out in this case – ironic, given the reason that the first Kingsman movie did so well.

Courtesy of Wikipedia

A year has passed since Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) and the secret organisation Kingsman saved the world from Richmond Valentine’s neurological wave broadcast. He has since taken his late mentor Harry Hart’s (Colin Firth) title of Galahad and lives with Crown Princess Tilde (Hanna Alstrom) of Sweden. On his way home from the tailor shop, he is ambushed by Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft), a former Kingsman trainee who lost his arm and vocal cords during the Valentine incident. Eggsy evades Charlie with his henchmen in a car chase across London, but Charlie’s severed cybernetic arm hacks into the Kingsman servers through the car’s computer system. While Eggsy is away in Sweden, a volley of missiles destroy the Kingsman headquarters and wipe out all of the agents in Britain, including Eggsy’s best friend Roxy. Brandon, a non-Kingsman friend of Eggsy’s, is also killed in the attack.

Being the only surviving agents, Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) follow the Doomsday protocol, which leads them to Statesman, a secret American organisation posing as a Bourbon whiskey distillery in Kentucky. There, they discover that Harry survived Valentine’s gunshot a year earlier, but is suffering from amnesia. Eggsy and Merlin are briefed by Statesman head Champagne (Jeff Bridges) about a secret terrorist organisation called The Golden Circle. They begin their mission by following Charlie’s ex-girlfriend Clara Von Gluckfberg (Poppy Delevingne). When Statesman agent Tequila (Channing Tatum) develops a blue rash, he is replaced by agent Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) as Eggsy’s partner. Eggsy manages to plant a tracking device on Clara during an encounter, but his revelation of the mission to Princess Tilde strains their relationship. After several failed attempts to cure Harry’s amnesia, Eggsy triggers Harry’s memories by threatening to shoot a Cairn Terrier that resembles Harry’s late dog.

Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), head of the world’s largest drug cartel, broadcasts a message telling the world about a toxin she laced within every recreational drug available, which causes users to develop blue rashes before progressing through mania, paralysis, and ultimately, death. She also demonstrates the antidote on a captive Elton John and offers it to the world if the President of the United States ends his country’s War on drugs and offers her organisation immunity. The President decides to have every affected user quarantined, including his Chief of Staff, Fox, with the intention of letting them all die and therefore ending Poppy’s career. Eggsy, Harry, and Whiskey head to the antidote factory in Italy after intercepting a phone call to Charlie by Clara. Eggsy manages to steal an antidote sample, but it is broken by Whiskey during an ambush by The Golden Circle’s henchmen. During the gunfight, Harry shoots Whiskey in the head, as he suspects that Whiskey is playing both sides, but Eggsy saves him with the same alpha-gel that Statesman had used to save Harry. Princess Tilde calls Eggsy in a state of mania, revealing that she has been affected by the blue rash. Eggsy, Harry, and Merlin discover the location of Poppy’s hideout, “Poppy Land”, in Cambodia and fly there to steal the remote control which deploys the antidote drones.

Upon their arrival at Poppy Land, Eggsy steps on a land mine, but is saved by Merlin, who sacrifices himself while taking the lair’s guards with him. Eggsy and Harry storm through the lair and Eggsy kills Charlie while Harry destroys Poppy’s robotic attack dogs with the help of Elton. They secure the briefcase with the access code to the drones and inject Poppy with a more potent dose of her toxin. She gives them the password before succumbing to an overdose. Before they can activate the drones they are stopped by Whiskey, who, having previously lost his pregnant wife to a crossfire from two methamphetamine users, is revealed to be working alone to ensure that all drug users are eliminated. Eggsy and Harry battle and brutally kill Whiskey in a fight. They release the antidote drones, saving millions of lives around the world.

In the aftermath, Chief of Staff Fox has the President impeached for conspiring to commit genocide on the drug victims. Champ announces that Statesman has acquired a distillery in Scotland to help rebuild Kingsman. To avoid the confusion of two Kingsman agents using the codename “Galahad”, Champagne offers either Eggsy or Harry the agent title of Whiskey, but they decline. Instead, Statesman tech support agent Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) steps in to take the role. Eggsy marries Princess Tilde, and Tequila moves to London to work for Kingsman.

There is a lot going on in this movie, and that is not necessarily a good thing. The plot remained unfocused throughout much of the journey, and given that it clocks in at just over two and half hours, it makes it difficult to even sit through. Some critics are saying that the movie is more conservative others are saying its more bombastic, and both are correct. The movie takes more of the ridiculousness of the first film and amps it up immeasurably, but at the same time, all of the interest in dissecting the spy genre, challenging why we like these movies in the first place, and reinvigorating our interest in the broad strokes… none of that is present.

I’m tired of watching movies that pretend to be a new take on an old formula, and then refuse to deliver the goods. Just because you use a sexual encounter in a weird context (in this context a spy needs to seduce a henchman’s girlfriend to find the henchman. Because obviously the tracker only works if it’s attached to the mucus membrane, and so into the vagina it goes. And to top it off Egerton then argues with his Swedish princess girlfriend for five minutes before he can proceed.

It’s not edgy, it’s not funny, and quite frankly it’s offensive to anyone who cares about monogamous relationships and/or gender equality.

Pros: It’s entertaining to watch this star-studded cast use CGI to beat each other up. Colin Firth, Pedro Pascal, and Mark Strong do a lot to to bolster the audience and engage with the story, heck even though most of the other performances are phoned in, you can tell everyone had fun interacting with each other and pretending to be spies.

Cons: On top of all of the incredible misogyny, that Vaughn claims is a subversion of James Bond cliches, Taron Egerton cannot act to save his life. And unfortunately for us, he is the main protagonist of this film. What makes it worse is that it’s a long film, which takes less chances, and lampoons almost everything to ill effect.

Runtime: 2 hours 21 minutes

Points of Interest: This is the first sequel that Matthew Vaughn has directed. Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, Colin Firth, and Elton John are all Oscar award winners. The movie originally had a runtime of 3 hours and 40 minutes, and it was suggested to split the movie into two parts, which didn’t happen. But there is a third Kingsman movie planned, with a Statesman movie spin-off in talks.

I think one of the biggest challenges of this movie that I haven’t addressed yet is the size of it’s ensemble. The first film had a fairly tight group of actors all working together to ground the story, despite the surrealistic nature of its tale. The Golden Circle is so encumbered by cameos, code names, and robotic canines, that it loses so much of it’s charm. It chokes on it’s own chutzpah.

But enough with the C word alliteration.

theories Summarized

The big question I still have is, is this movie worth watching? I would argue that for many people, it’s a great pop corn flick with lots of CGI and silliness. But if you expect more from your cinema, ie stories with a good plot, thought provoking themes, and interesting characters, then you can probably leave Kingsman: The Golden Circle on the shelf to age a few more years, theory or no.

That said, I can absolutely, and with 100% confidence recommend you check out Get Out. This early 2017 horror from first-time director Jordan Peele is everything that Kingsman: The Golden Circle is not, and then some. Please please watch this movie, it deserves awards!

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Tim!

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