Review by J.T. Johnson
In 2014, “Kingsman: The Secret Service” became a surprise hit for audiences with highly stylized action, great characters, and a plot inspired by the early years of the James Bond franchise. Even for me, it probably became the biggest surprise of 2014. After the first film’s debut, it became a no brainer that a sequel would be made.
The entire team, including director Matthew Vaughn, return for the sequel and the result… is a mixed bag if I’m being honest. The movie is good, but it can’t quite capture the surprise and the same balance as the original film.
This time, the action takes place a year after the first movie. Eggsy has settled quite nicely into being a Kingsman, but he also has a relationship with the Swedish princess he met in “The Secret Service”. Unfortunately, things quickly go bad when a new villain named Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) attacks and kills most of the Kingsman agents.
After the attacks, Eggsy and Merlin head to the United States to seek out the help of the Statesman organization, the U.S. counterparts to the Kingsman agency. With their help, Eggsy and Merlin soon discover that Harry Hart (Colin Firth) is still alive after supposedly being killed.
As stated before, the film’s biggest flaw is that it just isn’t as good as the first movie despite the fact that it definitely tries hard. There are several times where I felt that the filmmakers were trying too much to outdo the now famous church scene in the last flick. It also doesn’t help that Moore’s drug dealing Poppy or her motives are just not as compelling as Samuel L. Jackson’s Richmond Valentine.
Despite the film’s obvious flaws, though, there is still a lot of fun to be had with this sequel. The first thing to note is the appreciated return of Firth. The movie deals with his resurrection nicely and I was just glad to see his chemistry with Taron Egerton’s Eggsy was also back. It still feels weird to know that Firth is one hell of an action star considering his much more romantic and comedic roles in the past.
Also returning is the over-the-top action that people enjoyed from the first movie. Granted, I just mentioned that there are times where the action tries too hard to compete with the first movie, but there are still plenty of fun, stylized sequences to enjoy. Oh, and there is one more thing that I need to mention.
In the movie, Elton John is featured in a few scenes. The last thing that I thought I’d ever say about this film is that Sir Elton steals every scene he is in. I don’t want to spoil it here, but trust me you will get a kick out of his performance.
“The Secret Service” had a nice slow build to a delightfully absurd climax whereas “The Golden Circle” just tries to hit the gas right out of the gate. While this direction doesn’t always work in the movie’s favor, the ultimate goal here is to have a fun time. For the most part, this is where the movie ultimately succeeds.