Kingsman – The Golden Circle was a film that I had been really looking forward to.  I was a huge fan of the first film.  I thought Kingsman: The Secret Service did a terrific job of taking a character outside of the spy world, putting him through the rigorous training process, then going out to save the world.  It helped that newcomer(ish) Taron Egerton was very exciting to watch on-screen.  Colin Firth was great in the flick as well though he died at the end of the second act (which stunk).  Samuel L. Jackson played…….Samuel L. Jackson with a bad lisp.  But he always charismatic so at least when he plays Samuel L. Jackson he looks like he was having fun.  More fun was Sofia Boutella as Jackson’s evil minion with sword legs.  She kicked ass.  By the end of the first film Taron Egerton’s Eggsy had gone from hoodrat nobody to gentleman superspy.  When they announced the sequel I was damn happy.  Damn excited.

I’m not a massive fan of Golden Circle though the film is decently entertaining.  While the first film felt like a slight nod to the more silly James Bond films with some intense action I felt the second film had some great action but was more of a nod to…Austin Powers movies.  The first two acts dragged quite a bit – though I will admit that the last third of the film kicked some major ass.  It kicked ass because it did what they should have done the entire film.

The film starts with Eggsy (AKA Galihad) now a full fledged member of Kingsman – working for Albus Dumbledore.  Exiting Kingsman one night Eggsy is attacked by Charlie (Edward Holcroft) – a guy who was training to become a Kingsman but failed out (in the first film).  Now with a cyborg arm, Charlie and his goons are trying to take out Eggsy which leads to an amazing action sequence that kicks off the film.  This whole sequence is really breathtaking and director Matthew Vaughn did such a great job here.  Really Vaughn made most of the action in this film look phenomenal.  The style is if gun-fu and Matrix bullet-time came together with no cuts to the film.  Most of the action sequences are made to look like they are one single take.  That made things pretty intense.

Charlie works for bad guy Poppy (Julianne Moore) who is a multi-billionaire thanks to her network of illegal drugs.  Poppy lives out in the middle of nowhere in a very small town called Poppy Land (I think…I’m not going to bother to look it up…).  She is a delusional woman who wants to be known worldwide for being a business success.  She is…Dr. Evil.  She is.  She looks like gorgeous Julianne Moore, but the character is Dr. Evil complete with evil lair.

Poppy’s plan is to eliminate Kingsman and pretty much succeeds in killing everyone – except Eggsy and Kingsman admin Merlin (Mark Strong – once again proving he can be engaging no matter what role he is playing).  Eggsy and Merlin then head to America and find Statesman – the super secret American spy agency that no one knows about … even Kingsman.

Statesman is led by Champagne (Jeff Bridges) with agents like Tequila (Channing Tatum), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal), and admin Ginger Ale (Halle Berry).  After they get ….acquainted…the two agencies decide to work together.  Statesman also has another surprise…they have Kingsman agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth).  Harry had been shot in the face in the first movie and presumed dead.  Anyone who saw a television commercial or trailer for this film knew that Harry had survived so they is zero surprise when the dead character suddenly shows up alive.  They explain how he survived which is from comic-booky…but it is a comic book movie so I didn’t care.  Harry has no memory so he’s no good to bring out into the field.

Most of the film then focuses on Eggsy working with Whiskey and the rest of Kingsman to find out who murdered nearly all of Kingsman.  Poppy reveals herself when she informs the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood) that she has poisoned all of the world’s drugs.  Unless drugs are legalized and regulated, everyone who has taken her drugs will die.  The number is into the millions of millions.  Legalize drugs and Poppy will give everyone the antidote.  The President then launches into a plan of his own…which is actually quite ingenious.

Most of the film doesn’t show off Eggsy strengths and while he is capable of kicking major ass (which he does do later in the film) his character just seems hindered.  No offense here to Pedro Pascal, who I loved on Game of Thrones, but I didn’t like his character nor his interactions with Eggsy – which take up a ton of screentime.  Sure Eggsy is dealing with his organization being destroyed, sure he is basically being forced to team up with Statesman, and he even has to deal with his own character development as he deals with problems with his girlfriend.  But I just wanted more from Eggsy.  The character seems capable of so much.

The film really comes alive when Harry once again enters the fray.  I’m sorry if that may come off as a “spoiler” but does anyone really expect to bring back Colin Firth and not be a badass?  The film takes off at this point and really moves.  After I finished the film, after I finished that amazing third act, I then had disappointment set in.  Look – blowing up the Kingsman organization and having Eggsy face massive adversity is a good idea.  What spy movie has done it before?  Not many if at all.  So storywise it is a good idea.  Personally I don’t think it worked.  The film only steps on the gas when the Kingsman reunite to kick some ass late in the film.

At first I didn’t like what Vaughn did with Harry’s character in this sequel but was quite happy once the film finally kicked into high gear.  Taron Egerton was amazing again – I would have loved to have seen him be a bit more independent in the film.  I enjoyed him in these films (and I really liked him in Eddie the Eagle).  NOW Bruce Greenwood is one of my favorite movie presidents of all time – having kicked much ass in the amazing flick Thirteen Days.  So seeing him back playing another president made me smile, especially since this president was such a son of a bitch.  Elton John is also in the film playing………………………….really old looking Elton John.  Look.  The man is a legend.  I’m not going to take that away from him.  He just felt a bit shoehorned into the film.

Matt Vaughn is one hell of a director and even a meh-ish sequel film like this is still leagues beyond what others may be able to do.  I love his films even though I do think Kingsman 2 can’t stand up to his other amazing movies.  Still when I compare Kingsman 2 to other comic book movies like Guardians of the Galaxy 2 or Atomic Blonde I think the flick rises above.  I don’t think it has been a good year for AMAZING comic book films in general…but it could also be that my superhero fatigue may be setting in deeper than I thought.

This flick is a decent romp.  It’s not fantastic like the first film.  It’s not fantastic like Vaughn’s other films.  But it certainly isn’t the worst comic book film of the year and there are really great moments – especially that entire third act.  But if you decide to wait until it comes to digital or HBO I wouldn’t blame you one bit.

RANK: B-

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