Eggsy and Merlin find themselves with few options after their discreet organization is compromised in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Their only choice is to turn to the Statesman — an equally secret organization in the U.S. — to save the world from a deranged international drug dealer.
The Golden Circle matches the tone and excitement of the first movie, but ultimately does not set itself apart from its predecessor. The action grips you from the outset, but exciting scenes are few and far between, and the movie ultimately chooses jokes over anything else.
Julianne Moore stands out as the film's strongest point. Her villain, Poppy, could easily have been a recycled version of the previous movie's Valentine. The writers seem to have used a similar formula with slightly different quirks but little change in story or character. They have Moore to thank, who plays the part with terrifying hilarity.
Director Matthew Vaughn again showed his incredible ability to direct action sequences. With expert blocking and editing, audiences will be able to follow everything happening without having to focus too much. A few "Oh, come on," moments of superhuman ability barely detract from Vaughn's expertise in filming fights that are the right kind of violent.
Unfortunately, these action sequences are rare. The movie prides itself on making light of pretty much everything, valuing humor most. While entertaining, the rehashing of jokes for scenes on end can take away from the story in a movie that is more than two hours long. The movie could easily have as many laughs and call more attention to its intense action scenes with a shorter run time.
For example: the Statesman. The movie struggles to juggle several new characters and underuses talented actors like Jeff Bridges for a simple laugh in a handful of scenes. The Statesman's codenames — all alcoholic drinks — lose their novelty quickly and are obnoxious at first introduction. Halle Berry's character is completely redundant, a rehashing on Merlin with little effect on the plot, aside from performing an Ex Machina so Colin Firth can be in the movie.
This could all be forgiven, if it weren't for the fact that every action scene in the movie's first half exists only to drive the plot forward. Characters make choices they never would have made in the first movie in order to quickly establish the new villain and team. Characters the audience had grown to care about in the original movie are brushed aside quickly, and the movie tries to cover it up, saying, "Hey, look at your new American friends!"
Apart from these flaws, the movie is entertaining and fans of the first will certainly enjoy the second. Also, look for Elton John as he dethrones Bob Barker for funniest movie cameo of all time.
The sequel lacks the first movie's many homages to old spy thrillers with just a few stylized references. The tonal shifts between comedy, drama and action don't work as well as the first, so when we do reach those moments of tension — to quote Valentine from the previous movie — it seems like, "this ain't that kind of movie."