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Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017): A Review

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the pizza buffet of movies.

On paper, it sounds like a great idea – an endless assortment of the things you love! – but in practice, it’s way way too much, leaving a bloated feeling.

Let me back up.

When Kingsman: The Secret Service hit theaters in 2014, it was a breath of fresh air. Director Matthew Vaughn, once again adapting a Mark Millar comic series for the better, took what could’ve been a cheap James Bond riff and made it a brilliant, gloriously immature riff on British class struggle and the tech world. Violent, vulgar, and a little bit crazy, the movie was an R-rated joy.

In the case of this year’s model, however, we’ve gone a bit off the rails.

Following up a year after the original, The Golden Circle finds Eggsy (Taron Egerton) in the swing of things as a Kingsman. Spy by day – with that sweet tailor shop as a cover – while dating the Princess of Sweden by night, he’s settled into a good groove. Unfortunately for him and the Kingsman, however, they’re locked in on by a group called “The Golden Circle”.

Lead by a charismatic Martha Stewart-esq drug runner named Poppy (Julianne Moore), the Kingsman are quickly attacked and scattered across the globe. With little to no resources, Eggsy (alongside not-quite-Q, Merlin, played once again with aplomb by Mark Strong) looks to the assistance of the Kingsman’s American “cousins”, The Statesman.

The Statesman (seen here with Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, Game of Thrones’ Pedro Pascal, and Halle Berry) are a bunch of cowboys: so the question is – can the classy Kingsman work together with their Whiskey selling brethren to take down the Golden Circle?

It’s a lot to take in – and that’s not even covering subplots such as Eggsy looking to impress his girlfriend’s Royal parents, the return from the dead of Harry (Colin Firth, with a sweet eyepatch), and the lengthy inclusion of Elton John. Yes, really.

Running a far-too-long 2 hours and 21 minutes, there is a lot to enjoy about Kingsman: The Golden Circle, but the film is brought down by trying to do far too much. The action is as arresting and entertaining as ever, with Vaughn’s “Hyper Cam” shooting style showing spy antics in a way not before seen on film, including a wonderful Bond-esq prologue fought in the streets of London. The issue is, however, none of the plotting really sticks. The stakes never seem high enough, the real issue of concern is muddied, the attempt to discuss the “War on Drugs” is half-assed at best, and honestly, the shocks are rather cheap (including a sequence set at Glastonbury which you’ll be amazed a major studio approved).

I can’t say I didn’t have a good time with Kingsman: The Golden Circle – there are countless crowd pleasing moments, Julianne Moore seems to be having the time of her life as a villain, and I really loved the Statesman concept – but it was just too much. I feel like the team working on the film, including regular Vaughn collaborator Jane Goodman, needed someone saying “No” more often than “YES!”.

Would I be into a third Kingsman? Perhaps – but if there is, they need to make like Poppy and grind out the fat.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is in theaters now.