‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ Review: Matthew Vaughn’s Highly Stylized Sequel Is Classy Even When It Feels Overstuffed

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source: 20th Century Fox

Kingsman: The Golden Circle’s heavy style and off-beat villain warrant its existence

Kingsman: The Secret Service was a surprising spy movie that no one had ever seen before. It was an over the top parody of everything from James Bond to trophy blondes while oozing with British culture and explosive style. Matthew Vaughn steps behind the camera again for his first sequel and Kingsman: The Golden Circle follows suit with everything that made fans fell in love with Eggsy and the gang the first time around. However, it also brings everything that prevented it from going higher and more.

With the Kingsman headquarters gone, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) visits the base of their American counterparts, the Statesmen. There he meets Agent Tequila (Channing Tatum) and Agent Whiskey (Pedro Pascal). They inform him that a new kingpin, Poppy (Julianne Moore) has made it her duty to end the war on drugs by poisoning every drug users in the world. The Kingsmen and the Statemen will have to work fast as the people close to them will die.

The Golden Circle keeps the biggest appeal of the first Kingsman – its style. The quirky, over the top, eccentric, and sometimes a little jarring stylistic choices are still fun the second time around. Vaughn makes it his duty to deliver on his aggressive style, an exercise he clearly likes. Playing with colors pallets, camera movements, and music choices, he’s able to consistently craft some devious and artful visuals scene after scene. His heavy aesthetic may not be for everyone, but people who appreciate a film’s visual features will find Vaughn’s style quite appealing.

In addition, Vaughn brings the political undertones that were interesting in the first film back. Here, there’s plenty of jabs at Trump in the form of the film’s own fascist US President (Bruce Greenwood). However, the major theme of this sequel is the not-so-relevant but interesting war on drugs. Although not as current as climate change, it still manages to be a great angle for The Golden Circle to indulge in. Vaughn’s political centrism gives way for the film to critique extremism on both sides. While it may be lacking political punch, it gives way to everything good with this film from stylistic choices to weaving this political issue into more contemporary issues.

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Julianne Moore’s Poppy is this sequel’s best aspect – source: 20th Century Fox

These political overtones always seem to come from the brilliant off-beat villains that this franchise continues to create. The first Kingsman had Jackson who played a tree-hugging climate change activist. The Golden Circle has Poppy, a psychotic drug-loving pun-making 1950s-loving hipster. These villains are central to the success of these movies, and it’s their quirky nature that makes them memorable. Using radicalized ideologies of popular political topics is smart, and while a lot of people may be tired of our heavy politicized world, the film satirizes this in its own way. Poppy is well written, but Moore should be given credit for her smiley psychotic performance. She manages to be creepy, funny, and scary all at the same time and the majority is due to Moore’s excellent performance.

While The Golden Circle‘s consistency brings a lot of great things, it does also bring some bad. There’s a tendency to the film to try for more, and it doesn’t always work. It brings much more subplots that hurt the film more than actually elevate it. There’s so much going on that it takes from some of the better material like the villain. There are also times that some of the necessary materials are left feeling a little stale and not as surprising as the film intended it to be. The overall cartoonish nature of Kingsman can already be quite jarring without it having an overstuffed plot.

With a relatively dense plot, The Golden Circle forgets its main point of existence. During the second and third act, when things get quite too much, the film dives into spy movie cliches as a means to introduce new subplots. For a franchise trying to spoof these genre tropes, it never seems to at least acknowledge the cliches it falls prey to. Some huge ones feel like genuine plot points stripped directly from Bond movies. At the same time, Kingsman is supposed to be aware of such cliches so to commit some of them seems like a betrayal of itself.

When one gives plenty of material, you’re bound to love some of it and The Golden Circle gives enough good material from the eccentric villain to the quirky style to warrant its existence. With its clumsy tendencies and overstuffed plot at times, it’s disappointing when compared to the first film. However, true Kingsman fans will fall in love all over again with the vigorous style, the eccentric cartoonish villain, and the politics weaved in this sequel. If you loved The Secret Service, trust me, you’ll find the sequel still loads of fun, bruv.

GRADE: B-

Kingsman: The Golden Circle comes out in theatres September 22.

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