Kingsman returns with another insane, action packed thrill ride; the breakneck pace, choreography, humour and characters from the first film return in an even more chaotic and ludicrous plot that tries to balance a new villain, the introduction of a new spy organisation and the return of the great Colin Firth as an alive yet amnesiac Harry Hart. While this can be overwhelming at points and certain features do fall to the wayside, my primary issue with this sequel is in fact the comedic and careless tone Kingsman is known for; The random and cartoonish elements of the original film are pushed even further to an almost painful degree of weird that leaves people cringing not grinning.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle follows Eggsy and Merlin as they are forced to turn to their American counterpart, the Statesman, for help following a personal attack by new villain Poppy, a deranged drug lord characterised by a 50s aesthetic and two robot dogs. This shift to America is an interesting move and the Statesman themselves are very entertaining but they are severely underutilised in the film; particularly in the case of Channing Tatum who’s starring role is at most an extended cameo. Instead we are given Pedro Pascal as new agent Whiskey, thrilling in action sequences with a whip and lasso but otherwise a bland presence. Even worse is Halle Berry, who’s character Ginger Ale is given a rushed arc that is concluded in the most painful of ways. Amongst all these developments, the Statesman are also in possession of a very much alive Harry, apparently killed in the first film but now alive thanks to a convenient deus ex Machina which can allow agents to literally survive head shots. While this technology is frustratingly convenient it does fit with the increasing absurdity of this universe, the element of Kingsman that makes it unique from other spy films yet this sequels biggest flaw; its fine to be quirky but when an Elton John cameo interrupts the finale of the film it starts to get grating: breaking any immersion and ruining a truly emotional moment. It’s tragic because everything that made the first Kingsman great is present, it is just shackled by the expectations of a sequel to deliver more of what the audience loved. If director Matthew Vaughn had shown a bit more restraint, he could have had another amazing film; the pieces are all present they are just muddled and maddened.
A romantic subplot is also present but never feels as urgent as the film seems to think. Instead the heart of Kingsman remains the bond between Eggsy, Harry and Merlin; their relationship and dialogue giving the film its most comedic and emotional scenes. It is definitely at its strongest when the character moments are allowed to mix with the action sequences, offering more investment and a slight breath from the breakneck pace of the punches.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a flawed sequel; while it will certainly entertain and beats a lot of other blockbusters, the overindulgence by Vaughn to satisfy the fans has resulted in an overstuffed and cringe worthy film.