Monday, September 25, 2017

Movie Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

The heavily tailored British secret agents return under the direction of Matthew Vaughn for a more expansive and sillier mission that introduces an American equivalent agency and a new charismatic villain. Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is a full agent now and is confronted immediately by a ghost from his past, Charlie (Edward Holcroft) the failed recruit from the previous film. Charlie has a mechanical arm and is working with a group of killers. In a spectacular car chase, Eggsy escapes the attack and rushes to a friend's birthday party as Charlie's mechanical arm comes alive in the back of the car and hacks into the Kingsman's database. Eggsy is still dating the Scandinavian princess Tilde (Hanna Alström) in one of the less interesting parts of the new film.

The villainous drug lord Poppy (Julianne Moore) resides in a secret compound amongst ancient ruins designed to pay tribute to 1950s nostalgia, her obsession. She has even gone so far as to capture Elton John, a humorous cameo, She is especially ruthless making new member grind their colleagues in a meat grinder and eat the resulting patty in a burger. She also tattoos her henchmen with a gold tattoo that gives the Kingsman a clue. However, before the investigation can take off, all the Kingsman locations are blown up with a missile. Only Eggsy and the tech genius Merlin (Mark Strong) survive the assault. They activate the doomsday protocol which leads them to a secret compartment containing only a bottle of Kentucky bourbon from the Statesman distillery. The two agents drink the bottle and realize they are supposed to go to Kentucky. Somehow this involves the John Denver song that Merlin loves.

In Kentucky, Eggsy and Merlin invade the Statesman distillery looking for a secret compartment. They are confronted by the shotgun-toting Statesman agent Tequila (Channing Tatum). He's suspicious of the two British agents and reveals that they have Harry Hart (Colin Firth) stuck in a padded cell. Tequila threatens to kill him until Ginger Ale (Halle Berry) confirms their story. Ginger frees the two agents who confront Harry but he has no memory of ever being part of the Kingsman. The Kingsman meet the leader of the Statesman, Champagne (Jeff Bridges). Together, they decide to track down Charlie's girlfriend Clara (Poppy Delevingne). Poppy's plot involves any drug user breaking out with blue veins and this includes Tequila who is sidelined from this mission. Instead, Eggsy teams up with the lasso-toting Statesman Whiskey (Pedro Pascal).

Eggsy seduces Clara causing a rift with Tilde but manages to place a tracker in her mucous membrane tracing her to a secret snowy hilltop hideout in Italy. The film stalls a bit in this middle act and skirts the same political brashness of the previous film eschewing from displaying but depicting an alternate evil US President (Bruce Greenwood) when Poppy makes her global threat of killing all illegal drugs users if her product isn't legalized. The cure is located in the Italy hideout and Whiskey, Eggsy and Harry all head out though Harry is still dealing with the effects of having his brain restored after taking a bullet to the brain in the first film. The action is pretty fun in this part and Harry suspects that Whiskey is a double agent so he shoots him in the head. 

The finale has Harry, Merlin and Eggsy rushing to Poppy's secret lair as more people are affected by the blue vein illness including Tilde. The Kingsman suit up to assault the compound but Merlin sacrifices himself on a mine allowing Eggsy and Harry to attack. The final battle sees Harry against robot dogs and Eggsy against the mechanical armed Charlie. The action is still very entertaining and fun to watch as the Kingsman foil the plot. Whiskey does turn out to be a double agent making for more cool fighting. The plot wraps up a little too easily and the film feels a little long. This Kingsman sequel has some flaws and feels more cartoonish but the action is still fun and the glib sense of humor has decent punchlines. The huge cast feels crowded and some big names are underused, especially Halle Berry and Channing Tatum. I hope the series continues after the decent box office weekend because I'd be interested to see where they go but the series did feel like it is running out of steam. 

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