The first Kingsman film The Secret Service was without a doubt the biggest cinematic surprise of 2014: an explosive plot, a killer villain and action sequences to die for. Why jeopardize that by making a sequel? Director Matthew Vaughn tried and succeeded, to a certain extent.  

In case you haven’t seen Kingsman: The Secret Service, here is a quick recap: Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is a street kid with daddy issues. He discovers his deceased father was part of the Kingsman organisation, a secret service that used codenames based on the King Arthur legends. Agent Galahad/Harry (Colin Firth) takes Eggsy under his wing and together with the other agents they take on the evil Valentine and his sidekick Gazelle, a woman with razor-sharp prosthetics that can slice you in half. Despite some losses of friends Eggsy manages to save the world and score a date in the process.

Eggsy the future Swedish Prince

The Golden Circle picks up one year later. Eggsy is now a fulltime Kingsman and is playing house with his girlfriend Princess Tilde and his dog J.B.

It is full-on action from the first minute as Eggsy is attacked in a black cab, riding through the streets of London, by someone from his past and just barely makes it out alive. Before he can catch a breath, the entire Kingsman organisation is blown to pieces and the world is threatened by the world’s biggest drug organisation.

Eggsy reaches out to Kingsman’s American cousin: Statesman. Under the disguise of a liquor distillery Statesman uses codenames such as Tequila (Channing Tatum), Champagne (Jeff Bridges), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Ginger Ale (Halle Berry). The two secret services team up to defeat Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), a wannabe Pablo Escobar psychopath who is slowly but surely poisoning all her customers.

Villain Poppy hides out in the jungle of Cambodia in her private playground Poppyland ©20th Century Fox

Vaughn and the curse of the sequel

Writer and director Matthew Vaughn promised years ago he’d never make a sequel to please Hollywood. He would only make one for the fans of the first film and make it just as great. Not an easy challenge since Hollywood suffers from the ‘sequel curse’. Vaughn himself isn’t new to this as his earlier success Kick-Ass was followed by a mediocre Kick-Ass 2. Vaughn also wrote and directed blockbusters such as X-Men: First Class (2011) and Stardust (2007).

Kingsman is no stranger to the James Bond tropes: slightly exaggerated action scenes where the character should have died at least ten times, fancy gadgets and female beauty. However, unlike James Bond, Eggsy has some morals while dealing with personal relationships.

Agent Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Agent Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) join forces with Eggsy. ©20th Century Fox

Mix of James Bond and insanity

The Golden Circle is not a bad movie: it has action, suspense, humour, but it does not live up to its predecessor. The pace and brutality the action sequences brought in the first film feel a bit predictable and boring now. Twenty minutes into the movie Poppy and her henchmen blow up every Kingsman address, killing everyone except Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong). A waste of characters that is not compromised with the introduction of the new ones, who lack a certain amount of backstory and personality. Harry’s resurrection was really not a surprise and his one-eyed amnesia plot is a bit far-fetched. The Glastonbury plot where Eggsy has to sleep with a target is way too long.

Taron Egerton is back as the lovable misfit Eggsy. Together with Mark Strong’s Merlin and Colin Firth’s Galahad, they look like the James Bond version of the three musketeers. Julianne Moore is lovely as the psychopathic Poppy Adams and while she is delusionally grinding humans into hamburgers and kidnapping Elton John as her personal entertainer, she just does not live up to the legacy of Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine in the first film.

The best, yet most annoying part of the film is the use of John Denver’s “Country Roads, Take me Home” as it is played continuously. Overall Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a very good movie, but it will live on forever in the shadow of its predecessor.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is in cinemas now.

Text: Annelies Vanlinthout

Photos: ©20th Century Fox (all rights reserved)