By: Felix Felicis (Three Beers)-
I don’t think there are instruments invented yet capable of quantifying my excitement upon finding out that action comedy sleeper hit Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) had greenlit a sequel. More Samuel L. Jackson! (Okay, probably not he DID get a bit stabbey there at the end) More Colin Firth as Harry Hart! (confirmed even though their reasoning for how they reversed a head shot is nothing short of gloriously absurd) AND. BEST THING YET. INTRODUCING MY AND HAWK RIPJAW’S BOYFRIEND, CHANNING TAT”YUM”. Better still was when they released the trailer for Kingsman: The Golden Circle in what may be the most masterfully edited three minutes of all time. Slight spoilers ahead, avast ye, mateys, ye’ve been warrrrrned.
I tell you that so you, our dear readery readers, will understand the exact level of hype I was at walking into the theater this weekend. And while I was whelmed by the effort strung together using the steam power from the first Kingsman, cobbled together with beyond kickass action sequences, Golden Circle was, at best, a passable sequel.
We open on Taron Egerton as Eggsy sometime after the events of the first film as he settles into being a spy, a boyfriend to Princess Tilde, and a doggy daddy. Enter Julianne Moore as knockoff Samuel L. Jackson-level baddie “Poppy” who wants to legalize the drug trade so she can FINALLY hit the Forbes 500 list. Cue car chases, explosions, and a global hostage crisis/thinly veiled political commentary. But robot doggies and Elton John! So yay?
Elton John was everything good about Golden Circle.
I hate to say that about anything Channing Tatum is also in, but due to scheduling conflicts a large part of Tatyum’s role was reportedly given to Game of Thrones‘ “Overconfidence In Self-Skills” winner Pedro Pascal’s Statesman Agent ‘Whiskey’. In a void where actual character development failed to flourish, Elton John (who rocked my Spring Break trip to Vegas back in ’08) was the bright, shining, super sassy light boosting a flagging action comedy running on fumes from the first movie and tied together with (admittedly epic) action sequences and cameo appearances.
Here’s where things began to go slightly off the rails. The beauty of Kingsman: The Secret Service was that it took a tongue-in-cheek look at action spy comedies and let itself in on the joke. Golden Circle is a little bit of a hot mess that kind of IS the joke. The narrative is a heavy-handed knockoff of a political commentary that even Nut Job 2 handled with more subtlety (which I am all for, but c’mon, Golden Circle had everything but evil Oval Office mustache twirling). The plot lacked focus and/or flow, only seeming to come together within the many awesome, kickass, truly epic action sequences. Golden Circle made no damn sense, but if you loved Secret Service then this flick has enough momentum to propel this bloated, beached sequel of wasted opportunities across the finish line.
There was something in addition to the sloppy characters, disjointed plot, and wasted time in-between slick action sequences that I saw which still haunts me, HAUNTS ME, to this day. I close my eyes and it’s there, lurking, waiting for me to remember it. No, it’s not the misfire of casting Julianne Moore as the Big Bad (think tech savvy June Cleaver gone Shark-Tank-wrong with a spastic tonal overlay) after the giddy rush of Samuel L. Jackson’s lispy magnificence. No. It wasn’t that. It also wasn’t the reasoning behind how and why Harry Hart is still alive (which somehow involves a gel pack, brain nanites, and retrograde amnesia BECAUSE OF FUCKING COURSE IT DOES).
It wasn’t even totally the lack of feminism (sure, a crown princess has no outside interests or duties other than as a girlfriend who ultimately wants to get marrie-arghhhhhh nope remember your calm center) or the fact that Halle Berry’s Ginger Ale spends the entire movie fighting entrenched sexism that is the Boy’s Club of the Statesman only to have her rightful place at the end as a Statesman OFFERED TO EGGSY OR HARRY BECAUSE PENIS and then have it GRACIOUSLY “given” to her by the boys instead (ohmmmmm you are a gentle oak of calm). Okay, part of it might have been the absolute relegation of women in this movie (and cinema in general) to objects of possession or obstruction. Like, FOR EXAMPLE, the sight that still haunts me.
Here we go. At some point during the movie Eggsy and Whiskey need to find someone ELSE we thought was dead from the first movie (who’s now working with the new Big Bad) and their best option is to honeypot this guy’s girlfriend at a European Coachella-fest-like shindig. Ohmmm working past the implication women are important (and disposable) because of the men they bang ohmmm. They have to plant a tracker on her. Sure. Okay. I’m with you. But, oh no! It’s not just any tracker. Le sigh. It’s a tracker that must be inserted through a mucus membrane. Brb. Rolling my eyes FOREVER. This causes discord between Eggsy and Princess Tilde (because he called her to see if jamming his hand up some random chick’s hooha was chill-and then seemed surprised when it wasn’t). But then later on the camera pans down as Eggsy’s hand slides over Honeypot’s silk undies AND THEN X-RAY MORPHS INSIDE HER TO SHOW THE TRACKER ATTACHING ITSELF TO I’M ASSUMING A VAGINAL WALL. NOBODY NEEDED THAT.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle gets the gang back together again for a passable rodeo at Spy City but it doesn’t lasso itself more than “half” a win. TRUST ME WHEN/IF YOU WATCH GOLDEN CIRCLE THAT JOKE’S GONNA KILL.
Last Call: There isn’t one. Giddyup on outta there. I’m so sorry. I can’t stop. IT HAD TO BE PUN.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle (2017) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: when the Kingsman/Statesman do.
Do a Shot: for ground “Chuck”. Literally. Don’t eat that burger, man.
Take a Drink: every time evil robots come out to play.
Take a Sip: for every codename-drop “Whiskey”, “Galahad”, etc. Also: “babe”.
Shotgun Your Beer: When Elton John saves the gay, I mean day.