KINGSMAN – THE GOLDEN CIRCLE [Review]: Tailored Whiskey.
What up, peoples? It’s your boi The Belser, back on the wheels of movie review steel. This weekend’s selection is the sequel to the unexpected Matthew Vaughn hit from 2014 — a movie in which I also reviewed for GHG — Kingsman: The Secret Service. The Kingsman started out as a comic in England written by Mark Millar, whose serious take on the Avengers (The Ultimates) has been highly influential on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It has been referenced and parodied in pop culture (including a shot-for-shot remake of the ‘church scene’ on FAMILY GUY). But more on that later…
Ever since saving the world from Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson), Eggsy (Taron Egerton) has taken over the title of “Galahad” from his former mentor Harry Hart (Colin Firth). He’s even in a relationship with the Swedish princess he rescued at the end of the first movie. However, after an ambush from a former Kingsman trainee, Eggsy and the rest of the Kingsman find themselves targeted and–in most cases–eliminated by a mysterious source. A tapped out and depleted Eggsy and Merlin are forced to undergo a ‘Doomsday Protocol’, which requires they receive help, not from Clark Kent, but from their U.S. based ‘cousins’ “The Statesman”. Together, they discover a secret terrorist organization called “The Golden Circle” is behind the Kingsman killings. Walking hand-in-hand, Eggsy, Merlin and the Statesman agents have to stop the Golden Circle’s leader Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) from utilizing a toxin she laced within every recreational drug available to corner the world economy.
Top agent Eggsy has matured quite a bit since the first film. He’s confident, cool and seasoned. However, shades of the emotional, short tempered street kid he was occasionally shows up and complicates his new life as a Kingsman. Mark Strong also returns as the Kingsman tech wizard and weapon smith, Merlin, continuing his chief role as a guidance figure for Eggsy. The most interesting of the Kingsman (as was the case in the first film) is the returning Firth as Harry Hart. No — this is not a spoiler. Harry was seen in the trailers and is on the movie’s poster. The story arc of how he returns after being shot in the first film and what he’s been doing since was pretty intriguing.
That said, my favorite aspect of this flick is the addition of the Kingsman’s United States equivalent, The ‘Statesman’ organization. They are so different from the prim and proper Kingsman in so many ways:
- Kingsman code names are based on King Arthur and the Knights of The Round Table (Galahad, Merlin, Lancelot, etc.). Statesman code names are based on different forms of liquor (Tequila, Whiskey, etc.).
- Kingsman are dressed in posh tailored suits and are made to present an image of British refinement. Statesman are dressed as rough and ready cowboys with denim clothing, big belt buckles and Stetson cowboy hats.
- The Kingsman cover is that of a high-end tailor shop on London’s famous Savile Row. The Statesman cover is that of a well-known whiskey distillery in Kentucky with bottles resembling the real life ‘Gentleman Jack’ brand. Their company is even publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange, granting them considerable resources.
- Kingsman weapons continue to play up the ‘proper English gentleman’ archetype with things like bullet proof umbrellas, cigar lighter grenades and briefcases with machine guns inside. Statesman artillery plays on the ‘American Cowboy’ stigma with electrified lassos, baseball grenades and special six-shooter pistols.
The Statesman agents themselves are pretty interesting as well. Channing Tatum plays the ‘bad boy’ Statesman known as “Tequila”, an appropriate namesake given the character’s party persona. The head Stateman field agent opposite Eggsy is Jack Daniels or “Whiskey’ played by Pedro Pascal (GoT, Narcos). He’s a bit older and very competent but, with two Alpha Males on a gig, conflicts are bound to ensue. In a surprisingly subdued role, Halle Berry plays Merlin’s opposite on the Statesman, “Ginger Ale” (given that she is the purest and most innocent of the bunch). Rounding out the Statesman is their leader “Champagne” (or ‘Champ’ as he prefers) played by Jeff Bridges. This part only really continues a trend that Bridges has been on since True Grit — playing a rowdy, mumble-mouth old Southerner who you can barely understand.
The movie’s villain, Ms. ‘Poppy’ Adams, is played by Oscar winner Moore. The not-so-much-the-villain actress plays ‘Poppy’ in an interesting way: ridiculously chipper and optimistic. When you see her performance your first thought will be ‘She’s the ‘Bad Guy’?’. Then she starts to command some very graphic acts be performed on her behalf and they offset the chipperness quite brilliantly. The sunny, beaming white lady is the most powerful and successful businesswoman in the world! The problem is she can’t enjoy that title publicly because that money comes from illegal drugs. I enjoyed how she lives like a grandiose Bond villain. She has her own personal 50’s themed compound in South America complete with mine fields, her own amphitheater, legions of henchmen and even two robotic attack dogs. Her plan, like Sam Jack’s in the first one, is very ludicrous and perfectly over the top.
The action, like in the first movie, is ridiculous and cartoonish in all the ways one can conceive: car chases and crashes, lots of slo-mo shots, big multi-angle fight scenes. Though shot beautifully, the constant influx of action can be hard to track at times. The violence also goes overboard to the point where viewers may have no suspension of disbelief. They are all the same grievances I had with the first film. After seeing The Golden Circle, I guess they just figured “Hey, people liked the first one being made this way. Let’s just keep it going!”
OK, nerds. The all-important question: Would The Belser see this again? The answer: Yes. Despite my (minor) gripes, I see Kingsman 2 for what it is: mindless fun and entertainment. As mere popcorn movie fun, the flick is not meant to illicit thought-provoking conversation. It’s a fun ass movie. Enjoy it as such. It’s a movie worth all the state or king’s gold one can muster. 3.5/5 Belser Sealed Bibles.
– JaDarrel Belser