The first sequel ever from director Matthew Vaughn, and the next installment of the invigorating spy-film-gone-bonkers franchise, Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle follows up where the first film dropped us off. With a much more self-assured and experienced Eggsy, this sequel has a lot of upgrades. Some are extraordinary and some are lackluster enough to make you yearn for the exploding heads and megalomaniac lisps of 2014.
With the Kingsman adequately established and understood, the natural progression would be to completely destroy it and introduce the new world. Enter Statesman, which as you can guess, is the American counterpart to the British Kingsman organization. With a significantly larger bankroll (conveniently leaving out the even significantly larger debt) and a whole new slew of agents, Statesman was a genius way to keep the part of the spy organization fresh and interesting for the sequel.
Fronting as a whiskey distillery in Kentucky, the new characters and tech that Statesman brings to the table were just as fiery and exciting as the drinks they name their agents after. However, while the heroes of the story, including the Kingsman’s original cast, felt like they grew and filled in the bigger space allotted for the bigger sequel, not as much can be said about the role of antagonist.
Julianne Moore did an excellent job performing the part, despite the superficially charming and Americana-infused drug lord character that she was given. However, her role came off as cookie cutter. She had some great ideas and a lot of interesting traits, but she had no character. She was what Valentine (Sam L. Jackson’s villain from the first film) was on paper, and nothing of what he was on screen. Where he was an enigmatic force you loved to hate, she was a semi-interesting placeholder presence you didn’t really care enough to not care about. Seriously lacking in evocative antagonism, the shortcomings of the sequel can be diagnosed by looking at what the first one did right, then doing those things again, just slightly worse and much more expensively.
Fantastic action sequences were the one thing that this film certainly did not lack. Vaughn’s masterful fight scene choreography once again gets to flex its figurative and literal muscles. The inevitable comparison to the preceding movie’s sequences, especially the infamous church scene, which still stands as one of my favorite action sequences of all time, would, in my humble opinion, still be a downside in this franchise’s success.
The original massacre, set to the classic freebird solo, felt iconic and infinitely rewatchable. However, this film felt like the Hangover of sequel filmmaking, where the sequel inserts similarly-shaped puzzle pieces to create a similar feeling of a completed puzzle, but it couldn’t live up to the excellence it needed to meet. Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle just missed the mark. This sequel fell short of what it needed to be in order to adequately grow into its sophomore year at Franchise High, a made-up, crowded, and merciless school, where mediocrity and just getting the job done reigns supreme.
While evidently lacking, this film is still an enjoyable theater experience and a cut above most sequels today. Go check out Kingsman 2 for some fun, but keep your bar lower than the heights the predecessor left for us.
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