Kingsman: The Golden Circle kicks off with Eggsy (Taron Egerton) fending off an attack from Kingsman rejectee Charlie (Edward Holcroft), who is now apparently working for a new criminal organization, a powerful drug cartel known as The Golden Circle. Soon enough, the entire Kingsman infrastructure is taken out by a coordinated attack, and Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) are left to fend for themselves. But soon enough, they discover that Kingsman has an American counterpart known as Statesman, and with their help, Eggsy takes on The Golden Circle.The first Kingsman movie was a reasonably fun but overlong James Bond riff that moved just quickly enough to gloss over the somwhat noxious themes just lurking underneath. This sequel is a little more clever, but also longer and more problematic. The puerile elements of the first movie come closer to the fore, in sequences that put up the illusion of commenting on the underlying misogyny of the Bond myth while still taking advantage of the lurid material itself. The film is best taken as pure action spectacle, its big fight sequences still deliriously staged. It’s harder to accept if you give it any thought at all.Like the first movie, the plot is mostly one big joke. The film rarely moves with immediacy, the whole thing more concerned with looking stylish than actually moving the story forward. To an extent, this is fine. The action is actually stylish enough to distract from the characters’ strange detachment from the dangers that the world is facing. But the film is surprisingly long for such a silly lark, and it fills up a lot of its runtime with indulgent digressions that aren’t nearly as funny or as clever as the film seems to think. The most intriguing diversion involves the U.S. president’s reaction to the crisis at hand, which is oddly relevant to the local situation. But the movie is hardly capable of any trenchant commentary.It just doesn’t take anything seriously enough to make its attempts at relevance matter. It makes it pretty clear at every point that nothing of consequence is ever really happening. People might die, but within this cartoonish world, it is entirely possible that they might just come back. It’s all in the name of good fun, one supposes, but the “good” ends up being pretty debatable. As much as the film seems to be making fun of the standard formula of the Bond film, it never really does anything to remedy the more noxious elements of those stories. It still uses them in the end.You might remember the slight controvery over the final joke of the first film. The film doubles down on it, calling it back no less than two times. In general, the movie just doesn’t treat its female characters very well. They are either princesses to be rescued or narrative sacrifices that give the male characters their tragic motivations. Performances are okay, but they don’t matter much. The action sequences are the main attraction in this movie. These absurd, frantic, VFX-assisted, faux-long takes are thoroughly entertaining, if excessively violent.One’s acceptance of the excesses of Kingsman: The Golden Circle will be dependent on one’s acceptance of the excesses of the first movie. If you were able to overlook the thematic problems with the first film, then it’s likely that you’ll find this an equally fizzy entertainment. On the other hand, if you took the film to task for its various indulgences in puerile material, then you’ll likely find this film twice as disgusting. Either way, the fun action sequences aren’t entirely enough to acquit the film of its rather ridiculous length, though they do go some way in making stuff bearable.
KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE IS NOW SHOWING IN CINEMAS NATIONWIDE