To preface this review, I will say: I have not seen the first film of the Kingsman franchise, so The Golden Circle installment was viewed as a standalone movie in my mind. I have a friend who really liked the first one and would have joined me to see this except she had a date with college football in the south, which is important around here (Texas). I was seeing the film at one of Studio Movie Grill’s theaters in Texas, where the theater was sampling the whiskey that played a secondary role in the film, which was a nice treat.
The setup for Matthew Vaughn’s KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE, goes like this: An independent intelligence agency posing as a high end clothier on Saville Row (The Kingsman) is taken out by an unknown-to-them rogue element aided by a man who was rejected for membership by their group. After their destruction they realize they have a sibling agency in the US (The Statesman) and upon meeting them are met with suspicion until the details are laid out for all to see. Secondary storylines are: an eccentric robot-loving drug lord (Julianne Moore), a plot to kill drug users globally unless conditions are met, memory loss/degradation of faculties in aging, and injured super spies.
The style is wanna-be modern James Bond crossed with Marvel-style slo-mo, high detail fight sequences and A KNIGHT’S TALE-style loud rock accompaniment to action sequences. The visual style was beautifully colored and crisply contrasted, giving The Golden Circle perfect setup for a late summer popcorn-munching escapist thrill ride.
Like most testosterone-fueled blockbusters, the females are scant and superficially written, including Moore’s crazy crone who is smart and marginalized, a literal Princess who succumbs to the ‘evil plot’ and needs to be saved, a Gangster’s Moll who is the weak link in chasing down the bad guys and the Spinster who works in a male dominated field and is overlooked professionally, of which there were actually two. The relationships between the male leads and these ladies are flat and patronizing, where the men are there to either: validate the girl’s plan, punish them for moral failings, charm them out of info, use them as a tracking device, or impress their parents by cheating.
BUT, it is a summer blockbuster, so we’re not expecting miracles. It has all the things you expect from the genre; good guys, bad guys, car chases and detailed combat, fancy electronics, old friends reunited, an evil plot to overcome, and a hero trying to save a Princess. It worked quite well on that level and clearly set up another installment at the close, which is how the studio machine works these days (or. forever for that matter). The most fun part is actually an ongoing cameo by Sir Elton John that is delightfully sassy and several times made the guy sitting next to me cheer quietly (thanks, buddy, for being a good movie neighbor!).