Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Compared to its predecessor, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is more about quantity than quality.

This sequel to the 2014 big-budget action saga ratchets up the technical bravado and the stunt casting within its globetrotting tale of espionage, while forgetting to incorporate a compelling story worthy of advancing the fledgling franchise.

Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the newcomer to the titular clandestine British spy organization in the first film, is now one of its most loyal and trusted agents, having adopted the same Galahad nickname as his late mentor (Colin Firth). As this installment opens, he’s ambushed by a former rival (Edward Holcroft) with a bionic arm that he uses to relay secrets to his new boss, Poppy (Julianne Moore), a ruthless international drug tycoon living in a jungle utopia.

Poppy’s plan for world domination — besides kidnapping Elton John (gleefully playing himself) for her own personal entertainment — involves exploiting the world’s drug addicts by adding a deadly toxin into trafficked shipments of marijuana, cocaine, and more.

She also dispatched henchmen to destroy the Kingsman headquarters in a London tailor shop, prompting Eggsy and his colleague, Merlin (Mark Strong), to flee to the United States, where they partner with an equivalent organization run by Champagne (Jeff Bridges) that’s housed inside a Kentucky whiskey distillery. Their combined efforts to locate Poppy before her scheme runs its course are endangered by conflicting loyalties and other complications.

From its opening fight sequence set inside a cramped taxicab, to the ensuing chase involving the aforementioned souped-up vehicle, to the two hours that follow, Kingsman: The Golden Circle keeps the pace lively. Between the seamless visual effects and the hyperkinetic action sequences — choreographed and edited together with creative precision — the film has style and attitude to spare.

The ensemble cast features plenty of recognizable faces, some of which only contribute for a few scenes (such as Channing Tatum and Halle Berry) and are presumably meant to contribute more to future sequels.

However, the convoluted screenplay by Jane Goldman and director Matthew Vaughn (X-Men: First Class), who also collaborated on the first film, doesn’t have much substance to supplement the spectacle. The villain seems one-dimensional, and there’s a lack of sociopolitical context given the contemporary climate in which the story is set.

As a result, the final showdown seems more predictable than provocative, revealing the film to be a compilation of half-realized ideas that never come full-circle.


Rated R, 141 minutes.