Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Film Review No. 29 Kingsman: The Golden Circle (15+)

Strong Points:
More spy references
Strong performances from all
A certain celebrity cameo
Funny - mix of innuendos, clever humour and slapstick
Stylised action worked
The Statesmen
Twists and turns
Evil plot - scary outlook on the world
An almost sympathetic villain

Weak Points:
Less concise and focused than the first film
Villain doesn't have a lot of backstory
Villain's in the background a lot
Some gory sections weren't needed to be repeated!
Sudden removal of people from the first film
Some dodgy values

Some spoilers ahead:

In-depth Review:
Manner's Maketh Man. Do you know what that sounds like when put through a meat grinder? About the same as any other word really: 'ahhhhhh, fowejoriwwerlwlaff...!' And just like those words, the ideas of Kingsman 1 were sort of grinded together to make Kingsman 2. We had more stylised action scenes, large extended fight scenes, gadgets, class humour and even Colin Firth, including a Manner's style bar fight. However, like a burger, it all kept together, and worked, even if all of it wasn't particular appetising. This might seem like an odd metaphor but watch the film and it should make sense. I'm sure.

I'm going to compare The Golden Circle with Guardians of the Galaxy 2 for a second. Both of their respective previous films were surprise successes. Both were heralded as bringing something new and original to the popular spy and comic book genres. Both embraced a slightly more adult oriented approach to film making. And both released sequels, which while good in their own way, feel a bit bloated and erratic compared to their original counterparts.

Even if the film does feel at times bloated and over filled with characters, one man glides through with ease. Taron Egerton reprises his role as the now suave Eggsy and does brilliantly. Reversing the mentor-student relationship with Colin Firth in the first film, you can feel real emotion coming from Eggsy, even with his training of restraint. Eggsy is a Bond character in training, and as such way more interesting.

But it's not only Eggsy who returns with great success in this film. The Swedish princess Tilde, played by Hanna Alström, returns and isn't only the but of the joke this time. No, she's now Eggsy's girlfriend and provides a nice bit of humour with Eggsy and her family early on. We also had Merlin, finally getting his chance to get into the field. Mark Strong excelled in this role, especially in the later scenes (which I won't spoil here), managing to transform from basically a computer to a fully rounded character without it feeling rushed.

Next we had The Statesmen. The American counterparts to The Kingsman, The Statesmen are alcohol makers (of course). Their codenames refer to alchohol as well, so we have Tequila (Channing Tatum), Ginger Ale (Halle Berry), Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) and Champagne (Jeff Bridges). Channing Tatum has more of a cameo appearence than anything else, quickly being put into cryostasis, while Jeff Bridges is basically playing himself at this point. Pedro Pascal is great as Jack Daniels (code name of Whiskey) and Halle Berry also puts in a strong performance as the American counterpart to Merlin.

The Statesmen also allow Harry (Colin Firth) to come back in a twist we all saw coming. Turns out he has amnesia (tick) and has to be brought back by his old student (tick). So far, same old. However, it did allow us to have a fantastic scene with a replacement of Mr Pickles (Harry's old dog in the first film) so I'll forgive it. It's a shame they didn't explore Harry's condition further in the film as well sort of glancing over it in favour of the next thing I'm going to talk about.

Just like in the film, I'm going to talk about the meat grinder again. You might call it safe, boring or even 'cheap'. You will say you saw it was going to happen before it did. You'd ask, do we need this again?  And you'd be correct. We don't. But it was in it anyway. Lots of unsavoury things happened in this film, and it might've even been spoofing something, but there was just something 'too much' about this idea. But hey, it stuck in my mind, which is probably what they wanted.

The villain is your typical comic book fare. Played by an excellent Julianne Moore (the casting for Kingsman seems to be more Marvel than DC which is great), Poppy is the biggest business owner in the world. It's just a shame that her business happens to be the illegal drug trade, making her have to hide from society. Both her's and Richmond Valentine's plans in the previous film have, at least in theory been well thought out ideas. His, to stop overpopulation, her's to tax an already available product, boosting the economy. It's just a shame that both of their ideas also included mass genocide. I also wish Poppy wasn't just in the background for most of the film - compared to Valentine's constant appearances and conversations with the main protagonists throughout the film.

The action in this film is ultra-violent and ultra-stylish. While I presume that at least some CGI went into helping to film the action scenes, I don't think it took anything away from it - Kingsman isn't meant to be realistic. The slow-mo and spinning around made everything just look awesome, and the gadgets (even more riffs on the Bond gadgets) only added to the excitement. I even got some vibes of Johnny English what with the ski resort and umbrella shield.

Conclusion: overall, I did really enjoy this film's brand of ultra-violence and tongue-in-cheek humour even if I did squirm in my seat a couple of times when it went slightly too far. With a third film planned, I'm interested in where the series will go from here.

Rating: 76%

Thanks for reading, Satamer.

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