Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Manners maketh man. Indulgence maketh something or other.
For some bizarre reason, the sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service decides on a) an American setting, b) this particular title, and c) absolutely no references whatsoever to the real-life Knights of the Golden Circle, who are in turn maybe the closest real-life equivalents to Kingsman villains.
It’s one of many bizarre choices the film makes, which cumulatively pay off a little. The Secret Service seemed to get a bizarrely positive reception in the US, something I couldn’t quite get my head around. The film didn’t successfully scrub itself of all the influence of source author Mark Millar, Ruiner of Good Premises, and its commentary about the British class system, whilst pleasing/pandering to American audiences, had no real connection to the real world (in actual, 21st Century Britain, Galahad and Eggsy would likely never meet, even if they lived in the same London borough) — just like the rest of the film.
The Golden Circle doesn’t make the mistake of pretending there’s a hint of reality about itself. Indeed, the CGI sometimes gets a bit unconvincing, almost as an underscore to this, although the action is always punchy, and Matthew Vaughan sells the hell out of it with every camera swoop. Bringing back Colin Firth’s Harry Hart (something the trailers didn’t even bother to disguise) is probably the other bum note, especially as his subplot is more-or-less about the fact that he’s back and little else (attempts at proving his worth in the field don’t really have any tangible impact; attempts at backstory seem like another wonky load of details in a film full of them). Like its predecessor, there’s no real role for women, at least not on the heroic side of things (this film has no idea what to do with Roxy, just like last time, and simply gives up the pretence; Halle Berry, much advertised, doesn’t get much more).
On the other hand, the villain — Poppy Adams, an international drug lord (lady?), 50s nostalgist and yet somehow otherwise left-wing stereotype — seems to have been the result of deranged button-mashing against a random plot generator, and is all the better for it. And the President of the United States would, in any other year, be a parody — except we all know what the real POTUS of 2017 would do in this scenario, i.e. probably the exact same thing.
Yes, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is barely cognizant of the universe it was released into. Maybe it’s simply because I saw mother! the same weekend, but this is a film that aims for low-to-medium height and hits it. In that regard (if I can be vulgar enough to reference the score), it’s the low end of 7, along with Logan Lucky. It won’t last, and will seem hideously dated within 10 years; but for a weekend, it’s good enough.