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New Release Review - KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE review
The Kingsmen unite with their US equivalent, the Statesmen, to take down a maniacal drug lord.







Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Matthew Vaughn

Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Hanna Alstrom, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum, Pedro Pascal, Jeff Bridges, Michael Gambon, Sophie Cookson, Bruce Greenwood, Emily Watson

KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE poster


As a straight white male of no religious affiliation with a thick skin, I'm practically impossible to offend, but with its shitstorm of misogyny, homophobia, classism, religious bigotry and xenophobia, 2015's Kingsman turned me into a rapidly melting snowflake. Few movies have rubbed me up the wrong way to quite the same degree as Matthew Vaughn's lame pastiche of the spy genre. Its rushed sequel tones down the toxicity considerably, and the result is a movie with nothing to offer, the very definition of 'harmless'. Frankly, I'd rather be offended than bored.


KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

Borrowing the setup of every Bond and Mission Impossible movie of the last decade, Kingsman: The Golden Circle opens with an attack on the titular spy ring, leading tyke turned toff Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and techy Merlin (Mark Strong, once again raising the question of why he's playing a Scot) to follow a clue that brings them to the U S of A where they unite with The Statesmen, a similarly patriarchally titled spy organisation.

Together, The Kingsmen and The Statesmen unite to take down international drug dealer Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) and foil her dastardly plan to kill off the world's drug users.


KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

What really bugs me about having to bash another Kingsman movie is that, as a massive fan of The Avengers (the real Avengers, not the American ones), The Prisoner and The Man from UNCLE (the TV show, not the Guy Ritchie movie), this franchise is right in my wheelhouse. On paper, Poppy Adams is a creation British TV writer extraordinaire Brian Clemens would be proud of. With her lair designed to resemble '50s Americana, she's a cultural inverse of G Emory Partridge, George Sanders' wonderfully eccentric British UNCLE villain, who rode the streets of New York in a red London bus, taking captives to a lair modelled on a rural English village. Problem is, the movie does nothing with this setup. There's a prime opportunity for some clever cultural commentary on the differences between the UK and the US (two nations divided by a common language), but the best we get is a line from Merlin concerning the correct spelling of 'whiskey' (being Irish, I spell it with an 'e').

Despite having a threadbare plot, Kingsman: TGC somehow manages to make everything seem a lot more complicated than it really is, and it doesn't help that so much of the movie revolves around characters discussing said plot. Traditionally, action movies would offer us a set-piece every 20 minutes or so, but TGC follows the current trend of opening with a brief burst of action and then making us wait close to two hours for an overlong climax. To its credit, Vaughn's first instalment boasted some neatly rendered action, but the set-pieces here are a mess, thanks to the director's insistence on shooting in faux long takes, the artificiality of which is all too exposed by the sort of second rate CG that constantly reminds you this is a British production.


KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE

I'm all too aware I was in the minority with my vehemence towards the first movie, but even many of its defenders were forced to take issue with the scene in which our 'hero' exploits an imprisoned Swedish princess's (Hanna Alstrom) offer to indulge in some anal sex. In the sequel we learn that they've become an item, which raises some genuinely icky thoughts. This time Elton John (who swears incessantly - isn't that hilarious?) is the one being held prisoner, which presents the film with a perfect opportunity to repeat that controversial pun and give the middle finger to snowflakes like myself, but it tragically fluffs the gag.

The cast assembled for TGC is quite staggering, but everyone is wasted here. Hypocritically, the film features a techy played by Halle Berry moaning about being overlooked for a higher position, but this is a movie that completely sidelines two Oscar winning actresses (and Emily Watson). If Vaughn and screenwriter Jane Goldman were genuinely concerned about female advancement, wouldn't their sequel be titled 'Kingswoman'?

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is in UK/ROI cinemas September 20th.



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