‘The Golden Circle’ fails to live up to mantle of previous ‘Kingsman’ film


It’s said that sequels are some of the hardest films to make. If a director leans too close to the original, then it’s just a glorified remake. If the director strays too far away from the predecessor, then it has betrayed the source material. “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” falls somewhere in the middle of these two tracks, being both underwhelming and repetitive.

“The Golden Circle” directed by Matthew Vaughn, continues the story of Eggsy (Taron Egerton), a member of the British spy organization Kingsman. Eggsy saved the world from an evil maniac’s (Samuel L. Jackson) plan to take over the world in the previous movie. At the end of the first film, Eggsy took the mantle of Galahad from his mentor Harry (Colin Firth), continuing to work as a member of the spy society.

The second film follows Eggsy as he and his tech wizard, Merlin (Mark Strong) have to seek help from their American counterparts, the Statesman, after a former Kingsman trainee and the film’s central villain Poppy (Julianne Moore) destroy the organization. This dismantling of a long standing intelligence organization occurs within the first 30 minutes of the film, forcing the characters to act on limited resources.

Vaughn returns to form in the sequel spy film, pairing hyper-stylized action with moments of lowbrow comedy. This however, feels less like an organic response to the first film, and more of a repetition of it. Vaughn takes the things that worked in the first film, and tries to top them. From highly kinetic, hyper-stylized action sequences to comedic cameos, “The Golden Circle” matches plot points and details from the first to the second.

The action falls flat in the second film because viewers have already seen the director’s take on spy fights in the first film. This follow feels more like an excuse for Vaughn to use a bigger budget to make a bigger fight, using more CG effects to create spectacle. In particular, the climactic fight between turncoat Statesman Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Eggsy and a revived Harry, feels likes something out of a video game. An electric lasso flies through the screen, capturing attention, but revealing little imagination. This is a departure from the big action set-piece of the first film, where Harry is forced to fight in hand-to-hand combat with an angry, killer mob of people in a church.

If the action is a little disappointing because it seems bland and uninspired, the true crime of the film is a lack of nuisance. The first film succeeded in its use of subtext when revealing a deep class struggle between Eggsy and his fellow Kingsman recruits. “The Golden Circle” abandons this undercurrent theme for the most part, doubling down the satirical take on James Bond tropes.

The film also leans a little too hard into the over the top, from its villain Poppy’s nostalgic tendencies, her lair is in a ‘50s diner, to the Statesman’s belt buckles being tiny flasks. These details push the film from being a social critique wrapped in a James Bond-esque story to a James Bond story mixed with a teenage boy’s fantasy. The film’s biggest, over the top moment is a scene in which Eggsy must place a tracker on a target by injecting it into a mucus membrane. The realization is that he must insert it into one of two sexual areas of the body.

“Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is a film that provides close to three hours of fun action, witty dialogue and a humorous Elton John cameo. However, the film lacks anything that tops the first film. Vaughn managed to make a decent sequel, but cannot seem to crack what would make a better film than the first “Kingsman.”