KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
DIRECTED BY Matthew Vaughn
BASED ON THE COMICS ‘The Secret Service’ BY Mark Millar & Dave Ribbons
WRITTEN BY Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn
PRODUCED BY David Reid, Adam Bohling & Matthew Vaughn
STARRING Taron Egerton, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Elton John, Channing Tatum & Jeff Bridges
Hanna Alström, Edward Holcroft & Bruce Greenwood
PHOTOGRAPHED BY George Richmond, BSC
EDITED BY Eddie Hamilton, ACE
MUSIC BY Henry Jackman & Matthew Margeson
2015 saw the release of five spy films. Three of those were out-and-out action films from franchises: Spectre, Mission: Impossible – Rouge Nation and The Man From UNCLE. The other two were spy comedies: Melissa McCarthy played desk analyst-turned-field agent Susan in Paul Feig’s Spy and director Matthew Vaughn assembled a cast including Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong and Michael Caine for the screen adaptation of the Kingsman comic book. Of all these films, Kingsman was the most prominent one, simply because it was an unknown quantity. Colin Firth kicking butt?! Had anybody told me that “Bertie” could do that, I’d have laughed at them. Kingsman was unabashedly outlandish, which was its biggest strength. The makers knew that the film is frivolous and whacky but they didn’t try to market it as path-breaking, Palme d’Or-worthy stuff. It was a popcorn entertainer in the truest sense of the term.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle takes forward the story of the independent secret service which operates out of a Saville Row tailor shop. Psycho drug lord Poppy Adams has a deadly plan up her sleeve. Operating out of her little lair Poppy Land somewhere in the middle of Cambodia, Poppy attacks the Kingsman headquarters and all of its agents’ residences in a bid to ease her globe-crippling plan’s execution. Of all the Kingsman agents, only Eggsy and Merlin survive. They’re forced to go to the US of A to seek assistance from their cousins there – the Statesman, who have a liquor business as a front for their activities. The agents of the two organisations come together to bring down Poppy. Question is, can they stop her?
The movie has too many issues bogging it down. The villain is never fleshed out in the way Sam Jackson’s Valentine was in the prequel. The outlandishness doesn’t come off as charmingly. There are traces of the wackiness that made the previous film what it was, but they are not enough to leave a lasting impression. Under-developed characters and under-utilised actors add to Matthew Vaughn’s mess. Shoddily done CGI also lets the movie down, simply because it is to be relied on in such a film. The editing by Eddie Hamilton is too loosely done and makes one feel that the makers lost control of the film. Writers Vaughn and Jane Goldman bite off more than they can chew by adding a lot to the plot, but none of it is layered or well-written. It’s sloppy and underwhelming.
Composers Henry Jackman and Matthew Margeson do a fun job of recycling old tunes and add a soaring score of their own. Cinematographer George Richmond also does a pretty slick job, delivering wonderfully shot action set pieces and some glitzy work all over.
Bruce Greenwood is hilarious as the crazy US President (though he isn’t crazier than the actual incumbent; that’s impossible). Edward Holcroft is not menacing enough as Poppy’s henchman but does a fair job with what the writers seem to have given him. Hanna Alström is pretty good (and pretty) as the Princess of Sweden Tilde and Eggsy’s girlfriend.
The enormous star cast implodes in this film. I cannot imagine the great Jeff Bridges without his beard and he is absolutely wasted in his role as Champagne, the Head of Statesman. Halle Berry as tech support Ginger Ale is unremarkable and though Channing Tatum’s Tequila is funny, his screen time is next to nil. Sir Elton John plays himself and is quite funny in the few scenes he has. Pedro Pascal is the only one from the supporting cast who justifies his role with a solid performance as the lasso-wielding Whisky.
Julianne Moore looks incredible but cannot summon the craziness of her predecessor as the villain. Her character also lacks bite and is poorly sketched out, ruining her shot at a terrific turn as a villainess.
Mark Strong can always be relied upon to do his job, which he does with the right amount of sharpness and light-heartedness here. Colin Firth returns after dying in the prequel and is in good form. Taron Egerton as protagonist Eggsy is just as good as he was last time and carries the film well.
All of that ends up counting for very little because Matthew Vaughn’s direction lets down all the good stuff in the film. He is unable to bring the shock value the previous film carried. The massive star cast is not justified whatsoever because he doesn’t engage the viewer in the characters before them. There is far too much bloat on the film that needed to go and the film is stretched way too long at over 2 hours and 20 minutes. Vaughn seemed slightly scared of going all guns blazing on this like he did with the church massacre last time. He dumbs down the film unnecessarily and makes it difficult for a fan of the prequel to love.
All in all, Kingman: The Golden Circle is largely disappointing, which is sad because the ambition is there but the execution is lacking. It’s a humongous letdown from the previous film. 5/10.
CINEPHILE STOCK will return with Raja Krishna Menon’s adaptation of the Jon Favreau film Chef on October 6th.