In the 2017 film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle (directed by Matthew Vaughn) we find Eggsy and Merlin seemingly alone after a villainous Poppy Adams is apparently able to destroy Kingsman. There is only one solution for them and that is to turn to Kingsman’s American counterpart: Statesman. With their resources, Eggsy, Merlin and their yankee counterpart, Harry Hart, help to avenge their fallen Kingsman comrades by taking down Poppy Adams (played by Julianne Moore) and once more saving the world from complete and utter annihilation.
Fans eagerly anticipated the sequel which promised the return of a beloved character and the introduction of the spy agency’s American counterpart: Statesman. Kingsman: The Golden Circle had a lot in store and a lot to live up to. When creating a follow-up to an epic and fun film, a lot of things can go wrong. Just think about the sequels that disappointed simply because the filmmakers attempted to add too much or ended up adding too little to the story or franchise. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is actually a fantastic sequel, but it’s not perfect. Here are just a few of the things we loved and a few things we hated about this sequel.
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers for the “Kingsman” movies.
15. HATED: IT’S BIGGER BUT NOT BETTER
The first film eased us in when it came to the over-the-top aspects of its story and characters, as in, exploding heads, paraplegic serial killers and free telecommunication services. Kingsman: The Golden Circle does not hesitate to show us robot dogs and other impossible pieces of tech along with a whole world in which the laws of physics don’t seem to exist. Make no mistake, it’s great fun, but at a certain point, it just becomes too much.
The fight scenes should have been awesome in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Each one featured all the qualities that made those of the first film great: well placed slow-motion shots, exciting changes in pace and over-the-top violence (more so than its predecessor). It went so far as to make each one of those fights even larger in scale. Unfortunately, there were just so many of them that none stood out at all with the exception of one or two, and when you look back on the film, it becomes a blur of noise and color, far from what you see when you think back to the first film.
14. LOVED: POPPY ADAMS
Richmond Valentine (played by Samuel Jackson) was unlike most villains in a variety of ways and his plot was genuinely interesting and epic. Kingsman: The Golden Circle does a pretty great job at giving us a villain to match Valentine’s memorability, largely thanks to Julianne Moore’s performance.
Here is a woman who is no stranger to violence. She doesn’t flinch, she doesn’t flee and she never loses her smile. Poppy Adams is a drug lord who wants to be recognized for her accomplishments (illegal as they may be) and she does that by holding the world hostage through a common vice: drugs. Her character isn’t a repeat of Valentine and her schemes aren’t some rehashed villain’s plot either — all mistakes that a lot of sequels tend to make. She’s fun to watch and much like Valentine’s plan, Poppy’s scheme raises some pretty interesting moral dilemmas about drugs and drug users.
13. HATED: STAR-STUDDED CAST
Usually, when the decision is made to cast this many A-list celebrities, it’s all about marketing. It really shows in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which teased Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry and Channing Tatum alongside its stars. These three appear as agents of Statesman but they aren’t given a chance to really show us what they can do. Channing Tatum is given a few minutes in total to show us how funny and cool he can be, but Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry are barely given that long.
Halle plays Ginger, Merlin’s American counterpart, and Jeff Bridges plays Champ, the head of Statesman. They’re given a few scenes in which they sit down and say a few things but they aren’t given a chance to really be anything other than characters to help fill time. They don’t develop and when you think back to the film, their presence won’t immediately spring to mind. It’s disappointing to say the least.
12. LOVED: WHISKEY
If there is one member of Statesman you’ll be unable to forget, it’s Whiskey (played by Pedro Pascal), the charismatic, whip-wielding, lasso-swinging agent of Statesman fighting to avenge his wife’s demise at the hands of junkie criminals.
He was confident and smooth, he showed it in each fight, even in the face of rejection at the Glastonbury Music Festival. Halfway through the film, we all knew how his character would turn out, but because of his undeniable charm, we really didn’t want it to happen. Even when it did and that climactic battle begun, a small part of us was kind of rooting for him, only because it’s easy to see where he was coming from. We’re glad his character was given a chance to develop the way it did.
11. HATED: WHISKEY’S WEAPONS
In the same way that most of the Kingsman agents are almost overtly British, the agents of Statesman are incredibly… well, stereotypically American. Apparently, that means cowboy hats, booze, guns and lassos. That tendency to introduce over-the-top characters is part of the film’s charm, and for the most part it works — the Statesman agents we see are pretty awesome — but weapons like lassos are just a little too much.
Using a lasso just looks silly, even/especially when it’s capable of conducting so much electricity that, presumably, the heat allows it to slice things in two. That might have sounded like a great idea but it just doesn’t work in scenes where Whiskey is fighting a whole bunch of armed soldiers. The guy is cool enough with his gun-spinning antics and maybe even the whip where the lasso is just unnecessary.
10. LOVED: HARRY HART
Harry (played by Colin Firth) makes a miraculous return in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, saved by Statesman’s cutting edge technology. The problem was that his mind was seemingly wiped, along with his experience as a Kingsman agent; he thought himself to be just a lepidopterist (someone who studies butterflies).
Colin Firth does an incredible job at playing both the innocent butterfly expert and quickly transitioning back to the smooth, British superspy. His performance as Harry Hart, struggling to get back to his peak in the field, is one of the biggest reasons we loved Kingsman: The Golden Circle. His character’s story throughout the film was both exciting and believable, which, considering that this is a sequel, is something we hoped for but didn’t fully expect to happen.
9. HATED: STATESMAN
Statesman is the American private-run secret service, so of course we’d expect differences between them and their British counterpart. The film does a great job at distinguishing them from your average superspy agency, even if a lot of it sounds ridiculous when you try to explain Statesman to people (cowboys with alcoholic codenames is a harder sell than it seems).
The problem with Statesman in Kingsman: The Golden Circle is that the film doesn’t really give the audience a chance to see what Statesman is really about. It might make sense if we’re to assume that other than their style, Statesman is pretty much exactly the same; but if that’s the case, it’s just a little disappointing and makes the suggested spin-off film just a little pointless.
8. LOVED: ELTON JOHN
We see that Poppy’s hideout has everything she could ever want, including a theatre in which she’s apparently been forcing the Sir Elton John to sing for her and her new cyborg thug. Initially it was thought that he’d have a brief cameo in the film, but what we got was something much larger.
We’re really glad they put Elton John in the film. What seemed like some random, silly cameo turned out to be a clever, humorous way to link the two films together and provide some insight into the villain’s world. It’s also pretty funny just seeing Elton John telling thugs to go f*** themselves. Elton’s role and costumes actually go quite well with the rest of the film’s vibrant atmosphere and even adds to the Poppy Adams character.
7. HATED: POORLY WRITTEN LOVE STORY
The Swedish princess, Tilde, was introduced in Kingsman: The Secret Service as one of the public figures Valentine had kidnapped. She… err… rewards Eggsy for saving the world and apparently, they entered into a serious relationship right after. We enter Kingsman: The Golden Circle and they’ve apparently been together for a year with Tilde just about to introduce Eggsy to her parents, the King and Queen of Sweden.
Aside from a few funny scenes, there’s really no point to the romantic subplot in which Eggsy and Tilde start fighting because the former has to sleep with a target to save the world. In the end, we don’t even get a proper resolution to that conflict, they just instantly get a happily ever after. It didn’t develop any of the characters, it didn’t raise or lower the stakes, it was just there for the sake of plot and it just added to the film’s problems.
6. LOVED: CONSISTENT WITH HUMOR
The Kingsman films possess a special kind of humor. There’s some amount of slapstick, plenty of sarcasm and generally just a lot of black humor. Kingsman: The Golden Circle gives us more of that this time around but is careful not to overdo it.
The film is able to offer several nods to jokes in the previous film without failing to add something new. One of the more memorable jokes involves Elton John making a somewhat familiar offer to Harry Hart so the superspy would have more reason to save the world. Paired with Matthew Vaughn’s style, you’re going to watch this sequel and truly feel like it’s all part of the same world, nowhere near as jarring as other sequels tend to be in regards to atmosphere and tone when compared to their predecessors.
5. HATED: EGGSY DOESN’T DEVELOP
When we were introduced to Eggsy in the first film, we saw a miscreant from a troubled home turn into something truly impressive. It wasn’t just the suit, it was a newfound commitment to reaching his potential and using his intelligence and skills to better the lives of his loved ones and the world around him. We see more of that Eggsy in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, but it doesn’t develop any further.
It’s fair to argue that his character doesn’t really need to grow anymore. That’s technically true, but considering that his character in the sequel film is nowhere near as entertaining to watch as he was before, says a lot about the missed opportunities in the story. Just as an example, we see him still mourning the loss of Harry and yet we don’t really see how it affects his character. Maybe it’s in appearance and mannerisms of the character but that just depends on how you interpret Taron Egerton’s performance.
4. LOVED: MERLIN
Alongside Eggsy is Merlin (played by Mark Strong) who isn’t just generally stuck inside with his clipboard this time around, he’s in the field and in some pretty great scenes too. His character seems to have been written to be just slightly more lighthearted than he was in Kingsman: The Secret Service.
That much is clear from the first act in which Eggsy and Merlin drink to their fallen comrades before discovering the link to Kentucky. His character is still put to one side for a chunk of the film but he has a spectacular few scenes in the film, especially toward the end when Eggsy and Harry take the fight to Poppy in her secret hideout. He may not be a character the film focuses on but he’s as integral to the plot as the rest of them.
3. HATED: ROXY
The film is bold and is full of plenty of shocking scenes. That means it’s willing to bring some characters back and send others to the grave. We see that early on in the film when Eggsy is having dinner with Tilde’s parents and he sees and hears Roxy (played by Sophie Cookson) and his friend Brandon, perish, thanks to Charlie and Poppy Adams’ missiles.
We spent quite some time getting to know Roxy in Kingsman: The Secret Service, and the sequel seemingly killed her off without giving us a chance to see how her character might have developed over the year between the events of the first film and this one. It also refused to give us any indication of how their friendship might have grown after they supported each other through training. It just removed her from the story, which was incredibly disappointing.
2. LOVED: SHOT WITH STYLE
One of the things people loved about Kingsman: The Secret Service was that it all just looked so good. It wasn’t just the dashing suits and matching shoes (oxfords, not brogues, that’s very important), it was the vibrant color bursting from every frame. The scenes were wildly ludicrous but they looked so gorgeous it was difficult to resist feeling anything but excitement.
That same style is back in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. The film makes it clear with that first shot of the Kingsman tailor shop with Eggsy stepping out in a spiffy double-breasted suit. From that one scene, just before all the action, you could take any frame, place it in a fashion magazine and it wouldn’t look out of place. Matthew Vaughn definitely has not lost his touch. He’s only gotten better.
1. HATED: PACING
From the get-go the film threw action scene after action scene at the audience. Keep in mind that each action scene is shot in such a way as to make everything seem fast-paced and slightly difficult to keep track of. There were clearly some odd choices made as the film spends more time on hectic action sequences than it does on any actual character development.
The dialogue between Eggsy and Princess Tilde that sparks conflict is short and almost forced. It makes the characters seem a little more over-the-top than perhaps they should be and it causes that subplot to collapse from the beginning. The film’s pacing ruined other characters too, like Whiskey, who had a tragic backstory shoehorned into the film toward the end.
What did you think about Kingsman: The Golden Circle? Let us know in the comments!
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