Archive for September, 2017

594446-kingsman-the-golden-circle.jpg

2014’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service” was a pleasant surprise, released during the otherwise sleepy late-winter box office and chewing up spy thriller tropes with a gleefully irreverent, R-rated, comic-book aesthetic.

It was the kind of movie that featured a villain with swords for legs, leaning full-tilt into the absurdity. And as its centerpiece, an unforgettable sequence of frenetic violence as chaos is unleashed inside a church, resulting in a choreographed slaughter and [barely-a-spoiler alert] the impactful death of a major character.

But in continuing the series with “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” director and co-writer Matthew Vaughn outruns his own creativity. Good ideas are squandered while his sequel blows up (literally and figuratively) everything built by its predecessor and bends itself into a pretzel of expository nonsense in order to fruitlessly resurrect the same character whose death gave K1 its Midas touch.

Now a full-fledged member of the Kingsman spy agency, our hero, Eggsy, is in a committed relationship with Princess Tilde (who provided the first film’s controversial stinger). But when the Kingsman organization is all-but wiped out by an eccentric, robophilic cartel leader (a…bizarre…Julianne Moore, Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) must seek the help of their American counterparts, The Statesman, to save the world.

The addition of the Statesman is inspired, building out the world of the franchise and providing some of the best gags as Eggsy is introduced to a bizarro version of the Kingsman tailor shop. But while the Statesman are the best element of the sequel, they’re not used to their full potential (major actors appear only to vanish with only perfunctory plot participation) and come at the expense of pre-existing plot and characters.

To whit: [spoilery-rant alert] Kingsman is an egregiously male-centric franchise and it’s an enormous miscalculation that the film abruptly jettisons Sophie Cookson’s “Roxie,” arguably a co-lead of the first film and one of the franchise’s few named female characters. Her energy was critical to K1, providing a much-needed respite from the machismo (and borderline misogyny) on screen, despite being relegated to second fiddle behind Taron Egerton’s “Eggsy.” I assume a scheduling conflict made Cookson’s participation difficult, but the second film suffers as a result. [/spoilers]

It also suffers from a paint-by-numbers redundancy in the film’s third act. Having assembled the team and wakened the dead (again, stupid) K2 globe trots around the necessary action beats before arriving at the eventual showdown with Moore’s kingpin Polly.

There are robot dogs, a kidnapped and expletive-tossing Elton John (yes, really), and a man with a robot arm to fill the void of Sofia Boutella’s sword-legs. But while the camerawork is slick and the effects are top-notch, the going’s on lack all of the wide-eyed inspiration of the first film’s madcap insanity.

It’s fun enough, to a point, but rapidly loses steam as it reaches the final curtain. If a third trip to the tailor shop in store, Kingsman: The Golden Circle fails to make the case for why moviegoers should care.

Grade: C+
Kingsman: The Golden Circle opens nationwide on Friday, Sep. 22

Read Full Post »