I had the chance earlier today to sit down and watch Kingsman: The Golden Circle. For those unaware, this is a sequel to the hit spy movie Kingsman: The Secret Service that came out in 2014. Both films were directed by Matthew Vaughn, who is also a credited writer for both films. The Golden Circle stars Taron Egerton as Eggsy, and also features Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Pedro Pascal, Channing Tatum, Hanna Alström, Edward Holcroft, Halle Berry, and Sir Elton John.
Golden Circle’s story follows some time after the events of The Secret Service and while everything seems hunky dory for Eggsy after saving the world in the events of the first movie his whole world is thrown into chaos when a underworld criminal organization known only as the golden circle attacks the Kingsman and nearly wipes them out. Desperate Eggsy and the survivors turn to the Kingsman’s American counterpart, Statesman, for help in defeating this new menace.
Let’s get down into it. Did I enjoy this movie?
I won’t mince words here, The Golden Circle was in many ways an enormous let down for me. The Secret Service was a breath of fresh air when it came out in 2014. It was a silly movie that seemed very intent on poking fun at all the old spy movie tropes while still telling a grounded story. The Golden Circle has seemingly lost it’s sense of fun and I’m not sure why, it’s not trying to become a serious spy film, it’s just doing wacky stuff for no good reason. The Secret Service was a movie that was utterly ridiculous at times, but the overall story made sense. Very little about The Golden Circle makes sense. Character motivation is all over the place, the story takes turns that are completely unnecessary for no reason other than Matthew Vaughn thought it was cool or something. The jokes are… well there are way fewer jokes, like I said, this film doesn’t have that same sense of fun it’s predecessor had.
If you aren’t into spoilers I get that and I won’t use any specifics but I think that there is one moment near the end of the film that perfectly points out what’s wrong with the film. A bad person is trying to explain their motivations and they state one, then immediately contradict themselves and give an entirely new motivation, also neither of these motivations is backed up by events of the film. Up until then the audience isn’t given much of any reason for why this person is behaving the way they are until they explain themselves at the end. It’s horrid.
Also there is a serious issue with characters in this movie. As you might’ve noticed when I mentioned the cast of the film, there are A LOT of people in this movie. That makes things hard to give each character the appropriate amount of screen time to develop their characters and have them be impactful in the world of the movie. The Golden Circle fails in nearly every aspect to do this. Way Way too much time is spent on weird side character that have no meaningful part to play, the entire side plot of Eggsy’s relationship with Tilde (Hanna Alström’s character) is unnecessary and distracting from the film. Somehow the main dynamic that worked so well from The Secret Service, the one between Harry Hard as played by Colin Firth and Eggsy, is screwed up in The Golden Circle, and that’s for two main reasons in my mind. First the movie spends the first half of its runtime trying to play this reversal of the relationship where Eggsy mentors and tries to lift up Harry and just none of it really works. Then when the dynamic seems to be shifting back to where it was Harry makes one of the most bizarre decisions of the film and the only reasoning that’s offered for it is “intuition”. Like at least in The Secret Service he had reaons for doing strange things!
The Golden Circle is an action movie and so I feel it’s a bit required to note if the action makes up for it’s clear problems with storytelling and characters. Nope, not really. The Secret Service had very fun and imaginative actions sequences with “the church scene” probably earning a spot as one of the all time great action sequences. The Golden Circle’s actions is the opposite. Uninspired and janky, with the exception of scenes involving Pedro Pascal’s character, Agent Whiskey. That stuff works pretty well, but only accounts for a small portion of the overall film so it can’t make up for other problems.
My gut instinct also wants to say that performances also felt like a pretty big problem, but part of me thinks that has less to do with the performers and more to do with the fact that this story makes no sense what so ever. It’s bad enough that I can’t make any real commentary on the performances other than Jeff Bridges sure likes doing the cowboy thing doesn’t he? I will say though, Sir Elton John absolutely kills it. He is beyond fantastic and I loved every single scene he was in. Far and away the best part of the whole thing.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle has a run time of two hours and twenty-one minutes and the best way for me to sum it up is waiting in frustration for next Elton John bit to come up. It’s predecessor was a wonderful action comedy and this movie fails to build on anything that made The Secret Service so enjoyable. I expect it to fail at the box office and I’m fine with that. I don’t need to see Kingsman three if this is what they have to offer.
Peace out, hope you’re having a great day and you make some good choices like not seeing The Golden Circle. (Maybe try Wind River, it’s actually very good!)