Kingsman: The Secret Service’s lead actors return, reuniting with director Matthew Vaughn on the much-anticipated sequel. They’re joined by a pack of big name actors including Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum, and Narcos‘ Pedro Pascal. The presence of so much talent must have made it difficult to cut out unnecessary storylines. There are simply too many supporting characters squeezed into the mix, leaving the main plotline short-changed and feeling incomplete. Throw in Sir Elton John as a kidnap victim and even with a two-and-a-half hour running time, there’s no way to flesh out the story enough to fill in all the plot holes.
The villain at the heart of the action is Poppy (Moore), the narcissistic, sadistic leader of a drug cartel who longs to be acknowledged as one of the world’s shrewdest businesswomen. She’s built a secret hideaway filled with buildings that look lifted from the sets of Happy Days and Grease. Poppy’s office is in a vinyl and chrome diner and her henchmen patrol the grounds wearing leathermen jackets. Poppy’s desire for world domination )and admiration) via the illegal drug trade leads to a deal with the President of the United States, a deal which the President agrees to but has no intention of carrying through on. It seems Poppy has a plan to make drugs legal, but first she has to wipe out all the Kingsman.
Fortunately for Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong), Poppy’s plan doesn’t involve getting rid of the American cousins of the Kingsman, the Statesman. A Kentucky distillery is their base and Eggsy and Merlin make their way to the U.S. where they team up with their American counterparts, each named after liquor. They also discover Harry (Colin Firth) is not dead and is being cared for by the Statesman while they attempt to cure him of his amnesia.
While saving the world from Poppy’s devious, demented plan takes up a fair amount of his time, Eggsy is also dealing with meeting the disapproving parents of his girlfriend, a Swedish princess. Eggsy’s also determined to get his friend and mentor, Harry, back into the spy game.
Pedro Pascal’s ‘Whiskey’ is wicked with a whip, Channing Tatum’s ‘Tequila’ pops in and out of the film much too quickly, and Halle Berry’s ‘Ginger Ale’ has to play second-fiddle to the men even though she can outsmart them all. Jeff Bridges is ‘Champagne,’ the leader of the Statesman who agrees to working with the agency’s British counterparts. The performances by the Kingsman newbies are fine, but none can replace the chemistry among the original 2014 Kingsman team.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle works best when Egerton and Strong are paired up, or when the Kingsman trio of Egerton, Strong, and Firth are front and center. Of the many supporting players thrown into the mix in this sequel, surprisingly it’s Sir Elton John who delivers the most enjoyable performance. Elton John even gets to kick a little ass in high-heeled boots and his trademark outlandish costumes.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle tries to do too much and loses much of what made the original film such a huge hit. The first film was a fun, frenetic, fish-out-of-water story; the sequel feels jaded and restrained.
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong violence, drug content, language throughout and some sexual material
Release Date: September 22, 2017
Running Time: 141 minutes