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Review – Kingsman: The Golden Circle – “The puppies are cute”

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the sequel to 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service. Director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake) returns, along with writer Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass) and stars Taron Egerton (Eddie the Eagle), Colin Firth (The King’s Speech) and Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes). Also along for the ride this time are Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights), Halle Berry (Die Another Day), Jeff Bridges (The Big Lebowski), Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) and Channing Tatum (Magic Mike).

After getting trained up and saving the world in Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eggsy (Egerton) is now a fully fledged Kingsman agent. Unfortunately, a series of attacks from a drug baron super villain, Poppy (Moore), eradicate the agency instantly. Eggsy then heads to the USA with Merlin (Strong) to get support from their American equivalent: The Statesman.

Champ (Bridges), Tequila (Tatum), Whisky (Pascal) and Ginger Ale (Berry) have rescued the previously-thought-deceased Harry Hart (Firth), and – after he regains his memory – Harry, Eggsy, Merlin and Whisky head off to globe trot about and stop Poppy – who is holding the world to ransom.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle kicks off with a cool fight and car chase (which is shot like the incredible The Villainess) but immediately after becomes rather tiresome. Drawn out, unfunny, and so over the top silly that it will make you want to puke out of your eyes between rolling them so hard you’ll give yourself a headache, Jane Goldman’s writing is at its absolutely indulged worse.

Everything is overly contrived to seem (Dad) cool: like Poppy having a 50’s theme park hideout in an Aztec temple, or Colin Firth fighting own-brand Transformers, or Elton John. Pascal gets to briefly make lassoes rad, before the film overplays their use so hard that they become lame once again. But then this is The Golden Circle’s M.O. throughout: driving absolutely anything it does of any entertainment value into the ground, then making the same joke about it three times.

Kingsman wants to become a franchise so much it is painful, but even Roger Moore in his wacky-Bond pomp would have turned this one down for being a bit much. It’s flipping rich to mock the James Bond films in your first film – then double down on Die Another Day’s series low invisible car, para-surfing aesthetic in your sequel.

Speaking of Die Another Day – in The Golden Circle, poor Halle Berry gets to sit next to Mark Strong for ninety minutes on the promise that she’ll get something to do in the next film; which is at least more than Channing Tatum – who is put to bed after two scenes. Vaughn hangs everyone out to dry though – especially poor Julianne Moore, who has clearly been reassured regarding her part and performance that “honestly, it’ll be funny” (SPOILER ALERT: it’s not).

Thankfully, no one exchanges their freedom for the offer of anal sex this time, a la Kingsman 1, but you’d better believe that The Golden Circle will reference that having happened three times, before another horrid scene where a seemingly infinitely long and cringey Glastonbury sequence is ended with a woman asking to be urinated on by Eggsy, before being fingered for England until the camera disappears up her vagina.

Eggsy – with his mockney geeza affectations that ring absolutely false, is somehow a secret agent with no agency. He is a lead who – for most of the film – could be removed, and events would happen in exactly the same way. Just without the “fakkin’ ‘ell, take that, you slag” punchline. His, Merlin’s and Harry’’s camaraderie feels immediately false and unearned, while the cheat of bringing back Firth is slavishly attempted to be justified for absolute ages yet is ultimately pointless because he then does little apart from not be as good as he was before – another gag which is mercilessly repeated until you will want to smash your head in with your flip-down cinema seat.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is an embarrassing kitchen sink car-crash, but the puppies are cute.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is released in the UK on the 22nd of September.

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