Sonic Cinema

Sounds, Visions and Insights by Brian Skutle

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Grade : B Year : 2017 Director : Matthew Vaughn Running Time : 2hr 21min Genre : ,
Movie review score

The idea of a supercharged, R-rated James Bond film seems inspired. That’s how I basically went into Matthew Vaughn’s first go-around with adapting Mark Millar’s comic book, Kingsman: The Secret Service. It was fun, but it didn’t really hook me the way some of Vaughn’s other films (“Kick-Ass,” “Stardust,” “X-Men: First Class”) did. To say I went into the sequel with ambivalence would be putting it lightly- honestly, if I missed it in theatres, I probably would have been fine. But, when my wife wanted to see it after a long day at work, I wasn’t going to say no, and after all, a lot of pieces have been added this time out.

The first and last action sequences in this film, wherein Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the used-to-be-wayward teen-turned-Kingsman agent is fighting for his life, first in a car against a rejected Kingsman, later at Poppy’s hidden base against another traitor, do not work for me. The music is amped up to 11, and Vaughn’s comic book-inspired style felt like it slowed down the action, and took me out of the movie immediately, at the start. Not a good sign of things to come at the outset, and not a great way to end things. In between, though, there’s a lot to enjoy as Eggsy and the Kingsman organization is blown up, literally, by a mad genius bent on holding the world hostage through her terrorist organization, The Golden Circle. All that is left of Kingsman is Eggsy, Merlin (Mark Strong), and an still-alive Harry Hart (Colin Firth), the man who recruited Eggsy in the first film, and they must team up with their American counterparts, the Statesman, which has a slightly different attitude. I’m not quite sure what made Millar choose a Kentucky whiskey company for the Statesman’s front, but it means we get Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum playing, essentially, cowboys, and how bad of an idea is that? (Answer- Not bad at all.)

I would like to spend the rest of this review on Poppy, the villain of the film. She is the standout of the film, and it’s honestly not even close; the rest of the film kind of bored me, but whenever Poppy is on-screen, the film perks up. She is the head of The Golden Circle, the organization trying to take out the Kingsmen, and it’s a drug cartel based in South America. The base is designed like a ’50s town, with a diner and old-school salon and a movie theatre that is guarded by the coolest guys at school. It’s a bizarre thing to look at, but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t give me almost as much pleasure as Julianne Moore’s performance as Poppy did. I remember watching her in “Far From Heaven,” which was set in the ’50s, 15 years ago, and it’s fascinating watching Poppy and thinking of her playing someone whose entire identity and personality has been influenced by movies like “Grease” and such. Her chippy, sweet, unsettling way of going about her business, and holding the US hostage with tainted drugs in an attempt to legalize them, is lunacy in the modern Bond villain mold, but delightful to watch from beginning to end as she has no problem sicking her mechanical guard dogs on the Kingsmen or asking a new recruit to put the person who recruited him into a mincer. This is one of those performances that basically defines an entire movie for me, and makes me wish it were part of a better one.

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