Kingsman: The Golden Circle
You really should see this movie. It is entertaining, at times very funny with a depth that will surprise you.
Having thought that Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014) was a bit of a cinematic treasure, I was hesitant to see its sequel entitled Kingsmen: The Golden Circle. The previews failed to impress me, and I feared it would be simply trying to make a few bucks off the past hit film. Well, I was wrong.
Ignore the chase scene that takes up the first ten minutes of the film, as it only serves to divert your attention from the surprising dramatic depth of this movie as mentioned above. The Kingsmen, an intelligence agency centered in Britain, locks arms with a United States counterpart called Statesman to fight an international drug cartel. Sprinkled around wildly inventive special effects, it contains humor with a social commentary that you would never have expected in this type of action film.
First and foremost, Kingsmen has a wonderful cast, so let me just describe a few of them. It begins with Taron Egerton who plays Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, a young man recruited to join the Kingsmen in the earlier film. Facing an enemy that infiltrated his organization and killed many of his colleagues, Mr. Egerton brings the same wonderful style he previously displayed in engaging films like Testament of Youth (2015) and last year’s Eddie the Eagle.
Joining Eggsy is his old colleague Merlin, played once again in a sarcastic fashion by Mark Strong. As Merlin faces death as he stands on a landmine to protect Eggsy, watch for a powerful moment where he sings John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Road” as the enemy approaches. It is worth noting that the same song was involved in a memorable scene in this year’s Logan Lucky.
Also appearing are Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum and Halle Berry, central figures at Statesman known as Champ, Tequila and Ginger Ale. They add a commitment soaked in a sardonic sense of humor that adds to the emotional interest of this film.
I also need to point out the performance of Pedro Pascal, here playing a Statesman agent known as Whiskey, and Edward Holcroft who plays Charlie, an Kingsmen reject who seeks vengeance. These little known actors rise and shine throughout the film, and you are not likely to forget either one of them.
And how could I fail to mention the central role played by Colin Firth, once again playing Harry Hart, the Kingsman who was gunned down in the first film. He has been kept alive by a medical process that has robbed him of his memory, and his troubled attempts to help Eggsy come close to undermining the success of their effort.
However, with due respect to the above performances, the two characters who are the centerpiece of this Kingsmen movie are played by Julianne Moore and Elton John. Ms. Moore, playing a character known as Poppy, gives us one of the great female villains in the history of film. Her attempts to spread a fatal infection globally if drugs are not legalized in the United States is embodied by a woman who has a pissy sense of humor.
Yet one of the great surprises of this movie comes from Elton, who plays himself as a captive of Ms. Moore. While he is forced to perform for her, it was genuinely enchanting to listen to him sing and play the piano while he tries to find a way to combat her goals with a command of a four-letter word vocabulary.
What elevates this film from the standard sci-fi movies is a subplot that has quiet meaning in our world today. First of all, Ms. Moore is quite angry that the United States won’t legalize many forms of her drugs while allowing the use of alcohol, cigarettes and sugar that are far more detrimental to the human condition than marijuana.
In addition, the American president, played in a quiet demonic fashion by Bruce Greenwood, secretly would prefer to let the fatal virus that Ms. Moore has included in her illegal drugs kill millions of Americans rather than legalize them and have access to the antidote that is available but hidden by Poppy. From the President’s standpoint, why not let millions of drug users die and spare our country the cost associated with arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating them? The talented Emily Watson plays the President’s chief of staff who opposes him, but you will have to watch the film to see who prevails.
I point out the above to give you a reason why you should not let this film escape your attention. Sure, it lasts over two hours and 20 minutes, but why complain? After all, many of you have sat through a three hour NFL football game at some point in your life knowing in advance that it contains less than 30 minutes of action.