Double O Senseless
“Kingsman: The Golden Circle”
By Jason Wiese
In 2015, a year in which films of the spy genre were never in short supply, the most impressive film to celebrate espionage that year to me, ironically, did not star Daniel Craig in the role of a famous MI6 agent who says his name twice (see my review of Spectre). That would be Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. However, a close second was Kingsman, director Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of the graphic novel The Secret Service. A popcorn flick to its very bones, Kingsman is a love letter to classic, British spy films of the Sean Connery era that is as exciting as it is nonsensical.
Now imagine that level of craziness multiplied by about 200% and you have that film’s follow-up, Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
The Golden Circle is one of the most exquisitely bonkers films I have ever seen. I mean, it is seriously nuts, in such a way that its mere existence is baffling by today’s standards. The plot involves an American villain named Poppy (Academy Award-winner Julianne Moore) who runs the world’s largest drug cartel in an undisclosed location decorated in 1950s nostalgia (which she is inspired to do so by films and television released in the 1970s) and uses empty puns as a weapon. When she successfully destroys the Kingsman organization leaving only top agent Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and non-field agent Merlin (Mark Strong) alive, the pair must join forces with the cousin agency they did not even know they had.
The organization is called Statesman, an American spy network posing as a whiskey distillery in Kentucky. It is made up of secret agents who employ skills that equal the Kingsman, but characteristics and style that hilariously scrape the bottom of the barrel of American stereotypes. Their codenames are synonymous with alcoholic beverages (Jeff Bridges plays the boss Champagne, Channing Tatum plays Tequila, Pedro Pascal plays Whiskey and Halle Berry stars as Ginger Ale), their hand grenades are disguised as baseballs, their lassos double as deadly stun weapons and their Southern accents are almost thicker than our British heroes’. (You know, it’s funny, at my screening, the projectionist accidentally played a subtitled cut at first which, looking back, could have helped at times.)
For all the breezy, action packed energy and eye-tickling visuals that The Golden Circle delivers, it still does not quite deliver the same refreshing one-two punch that The Secret Service did. It often feels too wrapped up in its apparent goal to excel above its predecessor on the crazy scale that it loses sight of telling a story that we can successfully follow or buy into, not that you would ever actually buy into, really, anything that happens in this film. Not to mention, it just barely earns its unnecessary 140-minute runtime. Fortunately, the fun is never in short supply, and that is the best you can ask from a film of this caliber.
As I said before, it is hard to believe that Vaughn got away with a film like this (I have barely given you the tip of the iceberg of reasons why in this review alone), but it brings a grin to my face that he succeeded, proving that Hollywood still is willing to take chances on something this… unique, to say the least. Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a worthy continuation of its predecessor that you might just go insane over.