Director Matthew Vaughn and writer Jane Goldman are not afraid of killing off their characters in their movies. On one hand they seem to understand that death can have a point to a story, it raises the stakes, and moves the story and its characters forward. On the other hand, with the likes of Kickass and the now two Kingsman films under their shared belt, it feels as if characters can never just have their final scene, one final prophetic line before dothing their hat and exiting stage left in a dignified manner, they have to be blown up or mangled in the most cartoonish way imaginable. At some points throughout Kingsman: The Golden Circle you almost feel the impatience, Vaughn is manically tapping his foot on the floor. WHY HAS NOBODY EXPLODED YET? Jane Goldman is sitting across the room stroking a cat. PATIENCE MY PET, THERE’S A MEAT MINCER RIGHT THERE!
From a certain point of view, this is to be admired when compared with other mainstream movies being released today. Why kill your characters when you can milk them for several more movies? As entertaining as the Marvel movies are, they have become a little too safe because although you have this huge action spectacle that is supposed to convey life threatening peril, you know deep down that no one important will be killed off, because they’re contract has them down for two more movies. Warner Brothers actually killed Superman last year, but even when they go as far as to show his coffin and funeral, you know he’ll return in the next movie. In some aspects death has become relatively meaningless in mainstream movies.
No I’m not counting Yondu in Guardians 2. Let’s move on.
And so we come to Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the sequel to the Vaughn/Goldman runaway 2015 hit, a silly little action/coming of age movie that paid just enough homage to 60s spy movies without veering completely into Austin Powers territory. One of the perks of the first movie, was Colin Firth playing this genteel superspy who becomes a surrogate father/mentor to the film’s young hero played by Taron Egerton. As is the way of these paternal mentor type figures, Firth’s screentime is cut short when he is killed off Obi Wan style, fast tracking the young hero to the final showdown now magically infused with the complete learnings of the mentor to win the day, whereby they grow fully into the idealised state of man-dom punctuated with anal sex with the Swedish princess.
REMEMBER THAT HAPPENED? HA HA HA! GET IN LAD! MATE! EGGSY’S OUR BOY!
Arriving a little under two years later with the “I really wasn’t expecting to be making a sequel” territory. The Golden Circle has to find a way to bring back Colin Firth as Harry Hart since he was the best bit of the first movie. Firth obviously enjoyed himself in a Bond-esque role rather than the stifled Mr Darcy type character that had made him famous in his earlier career. In what other movie do you get to see a mild mannered Colin Firth shoot his way through an entire congregation of bigoted American rednecks to the sound of Freebird?
Kingsman 2 has us reconvene with Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the once street urchin now a fully fledged agent of the Kingsman as he struggles with bad guys trying to assassinate him and his new life as a dependable boy friend to the Swedish Princess (remember they met at the end of the last movie with bum sex? GET IN LAD). Things get much more difficult for the Kingsman, when a drug lord known as Poppy (the Julianne Moore) blows up all of the kingsman and all their bases. And so Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) must venture to America and ally with the Statesman, a bunch of distinctly American super spies dressed as cowboys operating out of a whiskey distillery.
With exception to Colin Firth’s resurrection, of which I have issues with of which I’m coming to. Kingsman 2 basically kills off the rest of the cast established in the first movie. It’s not a spoiler to say so, as it happens relatively early on. The cute little dog dies, Michael Gambon dies, Roxy dies. Now I don’t know about you, but one of the annoying parts of the first Kingsman, is that Roxy actually beats Eggsy to become a fully fledged member of the Kingsman.
The intelligence and wit of the first Kingsman is about this youth from inner city London entering this aristocratic world of English gentlemanly conduct and Roger Moore Bond era espionage. Then you have Roxy as this young woman entering this same world too, giving the aristocracy a much needed kick up the arse. It was kind of cool to see these different perspectives entering this manly world. I mean we don’t even have a king any more guys? So why call yourselves Kingsmen, unless your trying to prove some kind of point? We’ve had a Queen for the last sixty-five years? She pre-dates Bond!
Despite Roxy besting Eggsy in the Kingman trials, because spies and bum sex with the Swedish Princess (MAAAATTTTEEEE!) are really only parts of a distinctly boy’s own adventure, Roxy is soon relegated to the sidelines. Hence why in the third act, she basically goes up on a weather ballloon to shoot out a satellite, despite being afraid of heights, whilst the lads break into the mountain base and shoot fools, telling her not to panic as she soars upward into the stratosphere.
I was really hoping that the sequel would bring back Roxy in a more substantial role. But no they straight up kill her. They explode her house. I mean… unless they’re planning to bring her back in Kingsman 3 like they did with Colin Firth. By this point anything can happen. Hang on there Charlie. Are you saying you really want a Kingsman 3?
Well if they bring back Roxy, heck yeah.
Having already proved something of a hit with the first movie. It’s strange to see the predominantly The English cast get replaced with a starrier American cast. Obviously they usher in a brand new US version of the Kingsman but one feels were grabbed from the green room of Jonathan Ross’ talk show in a merciless attempt to bring ‘star power’ to the franchise. There are four Oscar winners in this film. Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry and Colin Firth. Channing Tatum is in there too, perhaps you’ve heard of him. It’s a weird feeling, because some of these actors only really get a handful of scenes. Channing Tatum for example is billed as this big presence in Kingsman 2, but he literally sits most of the movie out in a cryosleep tupe leaving Pedro Pascal comes in to do most of the heavy lifting.
It just feels like a movie of cameos, in the absence of plot they’re propping up the movie with recognisable faces and doing the bare minimum with them. On look Elton John! Actually Elton, what are you doing for the rest of the week? Fancy being in the movie for a bit longer than is necessary? Legend!
Clearly everyone is having fun here. Taron Egerton is a charismatic dude I’d watch in anything. Julianne Moore is great as the sweetly mannered big bad drug lord presiding in her retro Americana main street built on top of an Aztec ruin. Jeff Bridges is doing his usual boozed up Southern doohicky self as the head of the Statesman. Halle Berry is there to provide exposition energetically and tease her involvemnet within the patriarchal structure of the statesmen? Perhaps she’ll be the new Roxy in Kingman 3! They’ll probably blow her up too.
And then you have the return of Colin Firth. Who is definitely not dead after being shot in the eye by Samuel L. Jackson. Somebody has to stand as the heart and soul of this infernal movie, may as well be the guy who was the heart and soul of the last movie because realistically scheduling only gives us Channing Tatum for a few days and Jeff Bridges would cost a lot more to work with. There is not much point in bringing Firth’s character back apart from reversing the whole idea of the first film, instead of Firth briging Eggsy into the Kingsmen , it is Eggsy who must bring back his mentor into the fold. Classic Toy Story 2 reversal. Sequel making 101.
But the film doesn’t really have time to properly elaborate on the whole father son dynamic of the reunited characters. Instead, there’s a barmy plot involving all drug users being infected with this terminal virus, that causes their heads to, yes you guessed it, EXPLODE! No it’s hilarious their eyes pop out of their skulls and they just gush blood everywhere. At one point the entire plot of interrupted, when Julianne Moore’s character makes a worldwide address informing everyone of her evil plan because fuck if we have to find a way for the Kingsmen/Statesmen to work it out themselves and do the whole set piece dance. There is another plot point involving the president of the United States trying to find a loop hole in which he looks to be attempting to save everyone but in actuality wants to purge all drug users recreational or otherwise from the face of the planet. Which is I guess, pokes fun at the current president, because… yeah it’s not great.
I don’t know if I can fully recommend Kingsman: The Golden Circle to other forms of sentient life. It’s one of those films that looked fun to make, but less so to watch. It seems to get away from harmlessly riffing on the Bond template and just take a headfirst body slam into the crazy pool., emerging in a pair of Elton John sunglasses and a can of lager in one hand. I haven’t even talked about how bad the whole ‘fingering’ scene is. There’s literally a scene where Eggsy has to slip in a tracking chip ‘into’ this woman through this in your face crotch shot… but I give up.
There’s a perculiar strain of zaniness to Kingsman, which at first is quite innocent, like well meaning students protesting to lift the ban on marijuana but there’s also a darker leeriness to it which would make Michael Bay squirm. Perhaps this was to be expected we had already glimpsed this in the bum note ending of the last movie.
What ever happened to Manners Maketh Man? Remember that?
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is more of the same, though not quite as good. Though the action is frantic and punchy, if a little weightless, there is nothing that betters the church scene from the last movie. It definitely tries to get it’s end away in terms of leeriness unfortunately. I guess everybody involved looks to be having a blast and at times this sense of fun does prove infectious. As a movie it’s big, dumb and completely stupid, perfect for a Saturday night but fuck everyone involved for killing off Roxy.
Did you say butt fuck? MAAAAATTEEEE!
If you are a moron, you’ll probably love Kingsman: The Golden Circle.