“A damn good time.”
By Aidan Bayford
Film director Matthew Vaughn presents his first cinematic sequel in the form of risqué spy-thriller: Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle. The Secret Service was a pleasant surprise: parodying and shamelessly exaggerating bare Bond tropes. By comparison, The Golden Circle is just slightly pale.
The Golden Circle sees the Kingsman, a proper classy spy agency inspired by Arthurian legend, annihilated by the American drug lord Poppy [Julianne Moore]. Gary Unwin [Taron Egerton], or Agent Galahad, is reunited with Kingsman tech genius, Merlin [Mark Strong]: the pair follow a lead that takes them to the “American af” Statesmen, a similar spy agency brewing whiskey in Kentucky. However, Poppy has ensured all her drugs cause certain paralysis, followed by eye melting. Once Galahad’s girlfriend, Princess Tilde [Hanna Alstrom] becomes a victim, the rogue London youth becomes quite the chivalric knight – in orange. It’s a buff story, that re-produces that same swift pacing its predecessor displayed, but at times it’s a little dry.
Vaughn’s pulse-racing fight sequences make a very welcome return, but never out-do the beloved church scene from the first film. Vaughn opens with one such scene, a car chase through London that sees Eggsy thrown around a taxi; it’s very exciting, funny, and over-the-top. I just felt myself eagerly waiting, and waiting for the speed, the savagery – for the sound of Lynyrd Skynyrd – of another church scene, and it just did not come. And yet, Vaughn manages to squeeze in ten minutes of Elton John. John’s cameos are appreciated, but this might have intensified the film’s pacing issues.
The Secret Service is a very tight film, moving from significant scene, to significant scene. In comparison, The Golden Circle has ten minutes devoted to getting John in. Yes, John is funny, but, he does put the story, or fight sequences, on pause. As far as celebrity cameos go, it’s one of the better ones; eat your heart out McCartney – Pirates 5, you’re a disgrace. However, Vaughn does not bring these same compromises to the more intimate scenes. At Glastonbury, the scene requires Eggsy to rather literally, ‘tap that’, and place a mic ‘inside’ Clara Von Gluckfberg [Poppy Delevgine].
Egerton makes a first-rate ‘Eggsy’, or Agent Galahad, capturing perfectly the elite, classy gentleman, whilst also being recognisable as a London youth. Agent Galahad, or Harry Hart [Colin Firth] is equally as charming to watch. Mark Strong, RHUL’s finest (’85), portrays tech geek Merlin delightfully, giving a subtle and yet highly charismatic performance, which results in an emotional solo towards the film’s climax. On the other hand, Channing Tatum’s involvement is disappointing: I was very excited to see what Tatum would bring to the film, but his Agent Tequila is down and out after five minutes.
The Tomatometer stuck the film with a harsh 50%, and, whilst The Golden Circle does not quite capture the tight thrill of its predecessor, I think that’s slightly unfair. It’s certainly not as excellent as the first one, but a damn good time will certainly suffice.