Disappointment is a feeling that most people actively avoid. It’s why critic aggregator sites such as Rotten Tomatoes are so popular. No one wants their time and money wasted on something that won’t meet their expectations. That being said, nothing could have prepared me for the disappointing experience that is “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.”
“Kingsman: The Secret Service,” directed by Matthew Vaughn, was one of my favorite movies of 2015. It had a plot that payed homage to classic spy movies while trailing its own path, leading to unconventional turns, exhilarating action, and tons of fun. I expected just as much quality from its sequel “The Golden Circle,” which was also helmed by Vaughn.
“Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” once again follows the British spy intelligence agency known as Kingsman. Their headquarters is suddenly destroyed, and they team up with the U.S. intelligence agency, Statesman, to track down and stop the people who did it.
The best thing I can say about this sequel is that Vaughn still retains his style. Just like the first movie, “The Golden Circle” is full of witty banter, funny situations, and over-the-top antics to keep the mood lighthearted. Colin Firth and Taron Egerton are as charming as ever, stealing the show whenever they’re on screen. The Statesman’s southern style also add a stark and funny contrast to the Kingsman’s manner of high-class behavior.
However, these elements of style can only go so far, and in some ways, style harms the enjoyment of the experience. The quick, pan-and-zoom camerawork used during the a few action scenes of the first “Kingsman” is kicked up to eleven here, and it makes the action feel nauseating and disorienting. The over-the-top and silly elements present in the first are also increased, but without much of the self-awareness of its predecessor. It makes the whole affair feel more cartoonish than is necessary.
Even though we’re dealing with the same director as the first, Vaughn doesn’t seem to understand what made “Kingsman: The Secret Service” so enjoyable. While the first commented on, and cleverly avoided, certain genre clichés, this one falls face first into them, expecting its glittery style to break the fall. The plot also devolves into utter ridiculousness of the worst kind when it scrambles to make itself politically relevant.
The characters are unchanged by the end of the movie. Most of the more emotionally-charged character plots feel lifeless, and are often brushed to the side, becoming a futile waste of screen time. Nothing is learned, everything falls into place, and the whole story feels contrived and inconsequential, unlike the original “Kingsman.”
The return of Colin Firth is never justified as anything more than blatant fan-service, and often serves as a distraction from the main plot during the first half of the movie. Julianne Moore’s performance as the villain is over-the-top to a fault, making her character unthreatening and unfunny, adding insult to injury on an already mediocre character.
If you’re a fan of the original “Kingsman” movie, you’ll likely be disappointed in this weak follow up. If you’re just looking for a fun action-romp, this is a serviceable pastime, but nothing truly memorable. You might want to wait for this one to hit Netflix.