Sunday, September 24, 2017

Stubs - Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Halle Berry, Elton John, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges. Directed by Matthew Vaughn. Screenplay by Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn Based on Kingsman comic book by Mark Millar Dave Gibbons. Produced by Matthew Vaughn, David Reid, Adam Bohling. Run Time: 141 minutes UK/US Color Action, Espionage, Comedy

While we often rail against sequels on this blog, that is not to say they're all bad. Case in point, the new Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the sequel to the Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014), a bit of surprise hit from three years ago.

There is no giving away what they hadn't already given away in trailers, that the big three from that film: Colin Firth, Taron Egerton and Mark Strong are all back, though if you watched the first film, it's hard to believe Firth's character Harry Hart / Galahad could. (Don't worry this film gives something of a plausible explanation as to how that's possible.)

Mark Strong returns as Merlin in Kingman: The Golden Circle.

Kingsman is a privately run intelligence operation fronted as a London's tailor shop. While they monitor us all, they only seem to get involved in problems that threaten the whole world. In the first film, it was a Silicon Valley megalomaniac, Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), who threatens the world by using free wifi that he provides the world to transmit a "neurological wave" that will help cull the human population on Earth.

In this film, the entire world's supply of drugs (marijuana, cocaine, heroin, etc.) is controlled by a single person, the aptly named Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore). Poppy, who is not happy that she has to stay hidden, has monopolized and poisoned the world's drug supply with a poison that will eventually kill the user, of which includes one of Eggsy's friends, his girlfriend, Crown Princess Tilde of Sweden (Hanna Alström), who also returns as well as the U.S. President's (Bruce Greenwood) Chief of Staff (Emily Watson).

Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) controls the world's illegal drug supply.

But before the Kingsman can get involved, Poppy takes out all of them, except Gary "Eggsy" Unwin (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) who are conveniently not home. This leads the survivors to join forces with their American counterpart, The Stateman, who make Kentucky Bourbon whiskey for cover and operating costs. Let the American stereotypes begin.

Kingsman Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Galahad (Colin Firth) work with their
American Statesman counterpart, Whiskey (Pedro Pascal).

While the Kingsman code names are based on knights of King Arthur's roundtable, the Stateman's are all based on types of liquor. Led by Champagne "Champ" (Jeff Bridges), the main agents appear to be Tequila (Channing Tatum), Ginger (Halle Berry) and Whiskey (Pedro Pascal). Rather than dress in well-tailored suits, the Stateman agents don cowboy boots, hats and belts with large buckles. Instead of umbrella weapons, we have lassos and hunting knives.

Not much for Tequila (Channing Tatum) or Ginger (Halle Berry) to do in The Golden Circle.

There are several callbacks to the original film. Besides Alström's return, there is also an all too brief appearance by Sophie Cookson as Roxanne "Roxy" Morton / Lancelot and a much longer return of Edward Holcroft as Charles "Charlie" Hesketh, a failed Kingman candidate now working for Poppy.
One scene, in particular, is re-enacted with Whiskey teaching manners to roughnecks rather than Galahad or Eggsy. There is the, becoming more commonplace, one shot fight scene. Another reference to the first film explains the appearance of Elton John, who turns in a very solid performance playing himself as performer turned action hero.

Firth, Egerton, and Strong put in their usual best performance as they take up their roles from the original. Julianne Moore seems to be playing against expectations as a ruthless drug cartel leader with a bent for 50's nostalgia. Halle Berry is somewhat subdued as Ginger, the Merlin-equivalent of the Stateman. Jeff Bridges has very little screentime as Champ and fortunately, Channing Tatum has very little as well.

Jeff Bridges plays Champ, the leader of The Stateman.

The original Kingsman was surprisingly good that it would be difficult for any follow-up to match. And while Kingsman: The Golden Circle comes close, it doesn't quite reach the same heights. Still, it is a very funny film and quite enjoyable when all is said and done. Even if you haven't seen the original film, Golden Circle is well worth the price of admission and should not be missed.

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