Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service, successfully returns to the tongue-in-cheek spy world of Eggsey – the street tough turned posh spy.
Take one part Avengers superheroes, one part tongue in cheek graphic novel adaptation, throw in characters you’ve come to love from the first Kingsman, add a touch of monomaniacal villain complete with homicidal robot dogs and a henchman with a cybernetic killer arm, gizmos that would have made Q salivate, Zombieland-style comic book graphic violence, and blend with a Bond background – shaken not stirred – and you have Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
I loved Kingsman: The Secret Service. 007 which skates right up to the edge of parody, complete with outrageous fight scenes, action which would have killed an ordinary human a dozen times over leave our heroes unscathed and not even sweaty. If you haven’t seen the first one, The Golden Circle can stand on its own. Background is provided when needed – sparse enough not to be a sledgehammer but enough to all make sense.
Kingsman does it right. They do NOT take themselves too seriously but still respect their characters and the world they inhabit. They always stay within the confines of the universe they create. They never cheat out a deus ex machine. Their problems are convoluted but their resolutions are based upon established clues.
The first Kingsman movie introduced the Kingsmen, a secret society of spies and specialists who defend the world from bad guys. Based in England their code names are taken from the Arthurian legends. We also meet our hero – Eggsey – a diamond in the rough, son of a deceased Kingsman who Harry (Colin Firth), veteran Kingsman (code named Galahad) sponsors as a candidate to become a Kingsman. We get to see the trials and are introduced to that film’s super-villain played by a lisping Samuel L Jackson.
This time out we pick up the story in a very Bond-like dramatic fashion, with a bang – and an outlandish car chase, a cybernetic bad guy, bombs, and an underwater hideout – as the now experienced Kingsman, Eggsey, thwarts a battalion of unknown henchman who try to assassinate him.
I really don’t want to give anything away because this a movie that is tremendous fun and full of surprises and delightful cameos. It deserves to be enjoyed unspoiled. But I will say that Golden Circle introduces us to an entire other group of Kingsmen – cousins you might say – to help combat a new world threatening megalomaniac.
Taron Egerton is, again, delightful as, Eggsey, the street-wise polished Eliza Doolittle of the Bond world. I was really happy to see Mark Strong reappear in one of the few good guys roles he’s ever done as Merlin, this Universe’s Q. Hanna Alstrom reprises her role as Princess Tilde, former damsel in distress, now Eggsey’s girlfriend. And then there’s……well, as Dr. Who’s River Song might caution —- Spoilers, which I am loathe to do here.
I highly recommend this movie to any ADULT who wants to see a fun, funny, action adventure, good old fashioned archly delivered Bond yarn. For anyone old enough to remember the David Niven 1967 outright parody of James Bond, Casino Royale, there is a small flavoring of that too, like a teensy bit of sugar in a spaghetti sauce, just to be sure we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
But ADULT is the key noun here. There are an exorbitant number of profanities. (I love the British and British movies, but I sometimes genuinely wonder if they know any emotion filled adjective other than the F word). And there are an unfortunate number of blasphemies used as expletives. In addition there is at least one graphic, oddly and ultimately animated rather intimate physical scene.
There is a LOT of comic book violence including everything from explosions to dismemberment and an unnaturally clean Fargo homage.
But if you are in the mood and of the disposition, if you enjoyed the first Kingsman then you will love this one too. There are plenty of familiar references but lots of new characters, innovations, bad guys and preposterous plot contrivances to keep even the most jaded adventure/spy thriller fan happy.
Kingsman, like Eggsey, may be the new kid on the block in terms of spy adventures, but this budding franchise, like our intrepid hero, has proven itself again. Like the first Kingsman outing, Golden Circle is both a really good time on the outlandish spy adventure train as well as often laugh out loud funny and just plain old, sometimes even silly, fun. But this ride is for big people only.