Kingsman: The Secret Service was released to little fanfare in February 2015. Typically movies are released in February when studios know that have to put something out, but they’re hoping that nobody will notice.
When I walked into the theatre on a cold February day two years ago, I basically had no expectations. I thought at best I was about to see a mediocre action film, and at worst a total train wreck.
I was wrong.
Kingsman: The Secret Service wound up being one of my top-10 films of 2015 and to this day I will tell you it was one of the most fun moviegoing experienced I’ve ever had.
I have been expecting a sequel, and while I was looking forward to getting to watch my friends Eggy and the rest of the Kingsman crew kick some major ass, a part of me was also afraid that nothing could possibly live up to that first time.
I very strongly believe that movies should be judged on their own merit, even if they are a direct sequel or especially a remake. People are always quick to try and compare a new movie to the original, but I think this is lazy criticism. No piece of art exists in a vacuum, but each work of creation deserves to be evaluated on its own merits.
So on that note of criticism philosophy, let’s tuck into a SPOILER FREE discussion of Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
If I were to sum up Kingsman: The Golden Circle in word, that word would be ‘relentless’. The film comes right out of the gate with an utterly bonkers fight scene in a taxi cab careening through the streets of London.
This fight sets the tone for a movie that courageously refuses to back down from anything. There is nothing that is too over-the-top for director Matthew Vaughn in this film.
There are a couple of reasons why this absurdity works. First and foremost, the movie has a heart and humor that are absolutely delightful. As limbs go flying and cars explode you don’t feel like the filmmakers are trying to pander to anybody nor do they think their audience is stupid and just want to watch gun porn. The Golden Circle is able to walk the line between violent absurdity and charm in a way that makes you feel like you’re in on the joke with the filmmakers. Yes, every frame of this film is complete insanity, but the self-awareness of the movie is perfect and this creates a charming and fun tone throughout.
This self-awareness is created too without any hackneyed fourth wall breaks. The actors on screen are able to perfectly walk the tightrope between subtle charm and clichéd action hero nonsense. Taron Egerton, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Jeff Bridges, and Channing Tatum all fit into their roles brilliantly and each one makes the most of their time on screen. Their roles and traits are all exaggerated to the point of caricature, but damn if they don’t all nail it. Again, the balance of absurdity and originality with the perfect amount of self-awareness make each and every character interesting in their own unique ways.
Perhaps my favorite character though is that of Merlin, the field handler of the Kingsman agents and master of all the organizations technology. Think Q from the James Bond films mixed with a genius kick-ass super spy. Merlin is played by Mark Strong who did a fine job in the original Kingsman, but he takes this role to new heights in The Golden Circle. If you have seen this movie then you will know what I mean when I say ‘Take me home country road”, because damn guys…DAMN GUYS MARK STRONG MADE ME FEEL.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is not perfect. The story is well-written, but there’s nothing terribly original about the plot. The Elton John cameo, while fun at first, felt like it was beating a dead horse after a while. You can only go to the “hey Elton John is in this movie, look how wacky that is” well so many times before it gets old.
Additionally no matter how fun or stylized a movie is, some people just don’t dig on action movies and that’s okay. I can confidently say that Kingsman is not for everybody, but if it is for you, then it is REALLY for you.
If you want to have a really, really fun time at the movies, then I absolutely recommend going to see Kingsman: The Golden Circle.