Back in 2014, Matthew Vaughn's Kingsman: The Secret Service took the whole world by storm - proving to be both a huge critical and commercial success - so now we have a sequel: Kingsman: The Golden Circle.

Based off of the comic-book series from Mark Millar, the first Kingsman was so special because of how different and how entertaining it was - infusing fun and energy into the otherwise quite tired, dull espionage formula; reinvigorating the genre - and because of this nuanced and interesting world it had tapped into with the eponymous organisation itself. The film lent itself to a franchise rather nicely but, in doing so, it did mean that its originality and somewhat satirical thematics of playing against franchise conventions would be in jeopardy. However, thankfully, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a worthy successor to the 2014 success and one that keeps this franchise feeling fresh and light on its feet and wholly different from its other espionage counterparts like 007 and Bourne.
We pick up a year after the events of the first film. Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is now an official Kingsman agent, filling in the shoes of his mentor Harry Hart (Colin Firth), and thriving in a settled life. However, when an underworld criminal organisation by the name of 'The Golden Circle' - led by Julianne Moore's colourful megalomaniac, Poppy - comes after the Kingsman (and the world!), Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) find themselves in Kentucky, seeking the assistance of their American counterparts: Statesman. And right from the opening scene, director Matthew Vaughn - returning for his first-ever sequel - throws us straight back into the Kingsman action we came to love in the first film; it's almost as if no time has passed at all since now and 2014. If The Secret Service was 110 for its crazy action, The Golden Circle cranks things up to around 300/400. Now, whilst all of the silliness sometimes on show (robotic guard dogs; an electric lasso; Elton John kicking someone in the face) can seem a little jarring, it's handled in a way that makes it work and enjoyable.

That's the key word here: enjoyable. If there is anything that The Golden Circle is, it is that: thoroughly enjoyable. This is an absolute blast of mindless fun from start to finish. Everything you loved about the first film - the heart; the humour; the quick-cut action; the great character dynamics; the cool gadgets - is back and cranked up to a whole other level this time around. For starters, this film is far funnier than its predecessor, the comedy is brilliant and there are so many genuinely hilarious, laugh-out-loud moments throughout; this is mainly drawn from the wonderful interaction between the Kingsman and the Statesman but, in particular, Elton John's role in this film - as himself, it should be mentioned - is a highlight and, easily, this film's most entertaining aspect. Of course, with Matthew Vaugh at the helm, you're guaranteed great style and action and the sequences are all brilliantly helmed; similarly to the quick-cut, frenetic Church Scene from the first film, all of the action scenes this time around adopt that approach and it's remarkably impressive. Vaughn infuses such energy and style into his action that always keeps it feeling fresh and on its toes, but there is the occasional time where it can feel a little too exhilarating and frenetic for its own good with everything that's going on - in the earlier sequences, anyway.
The Golden Circle also brings a surprising amount of emotional beats to the table too. Not all of them hit, mind you, and there are some decisions that the narrative makes that feel a little questionable and rushed and that may frustrate some viewers but there is plenty of heart, regardless. The camaraderie and chemistry between the characters was, in my opinion, what made the first film so brilliant and it certainly carries over. Firth, Egerton, and Strong return as our leading trio and they're as witty and great as ever; they all work so superbly off of one another and it's their interesting familial dynamic that makes this ride one worth taking. However, Vaughn also introduces plenty of compelling new characters in the Statesmen too - from Channing Tatum to Halle Berry and even a delightful Jeff Bridges - and, whilst some feel a little underused (clearly set up to be utilised in future instalments), their addition to the ensemble is very welcomed and Pedro Pascal's Agent Whisky, especially, is a badass standout - complete with an electric lasso and some very cool dual-wielding pistols. It's so much fun watching this almost fish-out-of-water situation play out with the Kingsman's arrival in Kentucky and in their interaction with Statesman. All of the performances are brilliant too; the cast is stellar and everyone looks like they're having an absolute blast in this film. It is just a shame that some of the actors don't appear as much as you'd perhaps like; also, Julianne Moore's Poppy - whilst a colourful performance from Moore - is a terrible antagonist that is nowhere near as nuanced and brilliant as Samuel L. Jackson's wonderfully conveyed Richmond Valentine from The Secret Service.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a riot. It's ridiculous and even weirder and crazier than its predecessor but terribly brilliant, nonetheless. In typical sequel fashion, this ups the ante and cranks things up a notch; it's bigger and louder and funnier. It is also longer, though, and the runtime can be felt. The pacing feels a little askew at times when the story and the writing starts meandering quite unnecessairly; if the film was shaved down by about 20 minutes or so, it would feel so much more air-tight like the original. Despite this, it's still a blast. It's flawed: poor pacing, poor villain, underuse of cool new characters. But this doesn't take away from just how fun it is. Matthew Vaughn brings a slick precision and style to the proceedings and infuses it with a shot of adrenaline to create a film that is a non-stop rollercoaster from its first frame to its last. And it's awesome. Bring on round 3.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a blast; action-packed, hilarious, stylish and thoroughly entertaining, it's a fun and worthy successor to the original.


About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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