“Kingsman: The Golden Circle”
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated R for graphic violence, drug use, sexuality and pervasive profanity
Running time: 141 minutes
Production Studio: 20th Century Fox / Marv Films / Shangri-La Entertainment
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Kingsman: The Secret Service was a surprise hit which probably wouldn’t have been released in the dead of winter of 2015, if Fox had realized exactly what it had on its hands. After all, most movie studios see the season as a dumping ground for pictures with low expectations, given the attention paid Oscar hopefuls, the risk of bad weather hurting attendance, and that many folks have less discretionary income due to Christmas season spending.
Nevertheless, Kingsman bucked the odds, netting over $400 million at the box office, worldwide. Furthermore, the picture made such an impression on this critic that it earned the #1 spot on my annual Top 100 List of the best films of the year. [See: http://www.theaquarian.com/2016/01/20/the-10-best-no-the-100-best-films-of-2015/]
So, excuse me for eagerly-anticipating this sequel, especially since Matthew Vaughn was directing again, and Academy Award-winner Colin Firth (For The King’s Speech) would be reprising the title role, despite the fact that his character was killed off in the original. in Kingsman: The Golden Circle’s stellar cast features three other Oscar-winners: Julianne Moore (for Still Alice), Halle Berry (for Monster’s Ball) and Jeff Bridges (for Crazy Heart), as well as Taron Egerton, Channing Tatum, Emily Watson, Michael Gambon and Sir Elton John.
Besides adding a number of A-listers to the ensemble, the movie ostensibly adhered to the unwritten rules for mounting a successful, action flick sequel. Basically, that involves raising the stakes at every turn. Thus, Kingsman 2 boasts more bombastic special f/x, a bigger body count, and bloodier death scenes.
The film’s jaw-dropping opening scene alone is worth the price admission. At the point of departure, we find Eggsy (Egerton) being ambushed by an army of assassins led by Charlie (Edward Holcroft), a fellow Kingsman gone rogue. Now, Charlie’s doing the bidding of Poppy Adams (Moore), a formidable drug queenpin bent on cornering the narcotics market globally.
After miraculously surviving the onslaught, the only hope for humanity rests in Kingsman joining forces with the Statesman spy organization, its American counterpart. What ensues is a bodaciously-flamboyant splatterfest periodically punctuated by pithy asides reminding you not to take any of it too seriously. The picture’s only flaw is that it wears out its welcome after a couple of hours, which means the last 20 minutes could have been left on the cutting room floor.
Otherwise, Kingsman 2 is a visually-captivating, higher-octane sequel that ups the ante in terms of everything from star power to fight scenes to eye-popping special f/x!