In 2014, Kingsman: The Secret Service enjoyed considerable praise and appreciation from the audience, which prompted director Matthew Vaughn to come up with a sequel titled Kingsman: The Golden Circle. This second iteration is also an outlandish combination of subversive social commentary, over-the-top action and most importantly, the oddly sweet character dynamics. While The Golden Circle gets ultra-violent, absurd and darkly humorous, it still doesn’t forget that its humor and heart comes from staying emotionally invested in its unique and endearing protagonists. Whatever was established of the Kingsman organization in the first film was laid to waste rather successful in the second movie.
This was because they came under attack by a mysterious drug cartel. This means that Eggy’s (Taron Eggerton) finds his relatively new world turned upside down in a rather violent manner. Now, along with his tech guru Merlin, Eggsy has to seek assistance from the American counterpart of Kingsman; the Statesman. During this time, Eggsy discovers, and gets a nasty shock when he does, that his Kingsman mentor Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is still alive. However, he is not like his old self anymore. As far as the action is concerned, Kingsman: The Golden Circle provides you with plenty of it and is not a disappointment at all.
The hyperbolic action sequences are as acrobatic, breathless and as in-your-face as were of the original film. This includes the opening scene with a gonzo car chase in London, an alpine fight scene that reminded us of James Bond and the final and delirious assault on the villains. However, just like the first movie, the action of the sequel serves to continue the funny yet dark and socially conscious story of a young man and his coming-of-age wild journey. The arc of the first movie was not rehashed in the sequel; instead, this movie forces Eggsy to learn new lessons.
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The young man struggles as his tries to balance his relationship with Hanna Alstrom’s Princess Tilda and also still perform his duties as a Kingsman. The British class system had been severely criticized in the first movie and The Golden Circle shows that the great class equalizer is actually the drug use, which was implemented through the villain’s scheme. Drug use is something that can affect people from all walks of life. Without spoiling the film too much, it is safe to say that the movie vilifies those people who consider drug users demons and monsters and it also sends the message, quite awkwardly in fact, that drug use is not a good idea.
The movie succeeds in generating plenty of clash-culture gags and laughs as it takes advantage of the tongue-in-cheek use of Britishness with a rousing and rowdy take on America. From their bourbon distillery headquarters to their weaponry that’s a reminder of the Wild West, the Statesman is actually an amusing depiction of the frontier justice warrior image that is often projected to the world by America. As compared to the Kingsman, the Statesman are less refined, but they are more diverse as seen in their rough-and tumble methods and cowboy swagger.
The clever fusion of the American and British culture in the sequel is rather aptly symbolized by an important piece of music i.e. the bagpipe rendition of ‘Country Roads’ by John Denver. The satirical take of the Golden Circle on American is also shown in its characterization of the villain; Poppy (Julianne Moore). Her demeanor of a cheery TV mom of the 50s barely conceals her ruthlessness as the most powerful and secretive drug cartel leader in the world. She lives in a faraway jungle and has made her own Poppy Land among the ruins. As she grew up in the nostalgia of the fifties such as Happy Days, American Graffiti and Grease, it is reflected in the structures of Poppy Land.
The sunny optimism she has essentially needles the capitalist and relentless drive and can-do spirit of Americans and this is done subversively because it is framed in her huge criminal enterprise. By far, the most colorful performance delivered in the film is by Moore and she successfully steals every scene she appears in. Meanwhile, Eggerton once again proves that he is a winning screen presence. As Merlin, Mark Strong also has some really strong and memorable moments whereas Colin Firth does an excellent job of portraying a more vulnerable version of Harry.
In the case of the Statesman, Channing Tatum doesn’t appear as frequently as Agent Tequila does, but every time he does make an appearance, it is definitely fun. The real stand-out character amongst the Statesman is none other than Pedro Pascal who serves as Agent Whiskey and wields the whip. As Ginger Ale, Halle Berry comes off as sweet, but seems a bit underserved and is Merlin’s American answer. The disappointment here is of the character of Champagne by Jeff Bridges, who is the chief of the Statesman. His appearance is mostly an extended cameo where he does a parody of his own cowboy personalities in past movies.
Ultimately, it should be noted that the Kingsman movies are quite self-aware. The Secret Service had received wide criticism for being puerile needlessly as well as sexist when they made Tilde the literal butt of a very crude joke. The Golden Circle seems to want to atone for this ending as it has a similar comedic and sexual scene, but with a different female character. However, instead of being flippant, they show consequences, which need to be addressed.
Thus, this makes Kingsman: The Golden Circle just as crazy, cartoonish and cheeky as its predecessor, but doesn’t hesitate in demolishing the foundation it had built previously if it can serve the story in a better way. The new dynamic shown between Eggsy and his new team is excellent and the Statesman turn out to be an amusing counterpart of these gentlemen spies. The choice of villain is also excellent and coupled with the different ending, the movie does a great job of providing entertainment.
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