Imagine you were 10 years old and given five minutes to tear through a toy store. You’d sprint in, grab everything you wanted, and fall down from exhaustion at the end. It would be an amazing time, but with so much happening so fast, what would the real, lasting memory be? That experience, in movie form, is Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
The kids in this wild hypothetical are Kingsman director Matthew Vaughn and his co-writer, Jane Goldman. They’ve crafted a film filled with excitement. It’s got chills, thrills, and oodles of awesome. And yet, by the end, it feels a little like sensory overload.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle is the sequel to 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service. Once again we follow Eggsy (Taron Egerton), the latest recruit of a super-secret, super-stylish British spy organisation. This time, though, he and his team are forced to team up with the Statesman, a similar spy organisation based in the United States. Together, they’ll battle the Golden Circle, an evil empire lead by Poppy, a sinister villain with a bad case of nostalgia, played by Julianne Moore.
Sounds simple enough, right? It’s really not. Within that framing, Vaughn has a lot of ground to cover. Like, a lot of ground to cover. I won’t get into specifics for the sake of leaving you unspoiled, but just think about that toy store again. From the second the film starts until the second it ends (which is a long 141 minutes), Vaughn is constantly throwing ideas onto the screen. Elaborate action sequences, cool gadgets, new characters, political allegory, social commentary, twists, turns, and a whole lot more. It’s like he had a billion ideas for a sequel and just couldn’t say “No” to any of them.
Take the cast, for example. I’ve already mentioned Egerton and Moore, but there’s also Mark Strong, Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Pedro Pascal, Elton John, and Colin Firth. That’s A LOT of star power and, unfortunately, only two or three of them get their full due. Now, of course, not all of them are meant to. A few are intended to be glorified cameos, but each actor is having so much fun on this roller coaster ride that I wanted more. The movie just doesn’t have time.
That last name mentioned bears a bit more explanation as well. Yes, Colin Firth’s character, who died in the first movie, is back for this one and his story is a huge component of the film. In fact, it’s probably the story line that gets the most screen time, as well it should. But Firth’s return is also a perfect example of Kingsman’s simultaneous strengths and faults. Is it exciting to see Firth’s character back and find out how he’s still around? Absolutely. But is bringing him back just a tad self-indulgent, especially when there are so many other new characters introduced? Yep, that too.
Thankfully, Vaughn’s excess is rarely wasted. The constant barrage of information, action, and characters keep the film moving and entertaining. As things are happening on screen, you’ll pretty regularly find yourself with a huge smile on your face. Few filmmakers know how to make a film a stylish and cool as Vaughn, and Kingsman: The Golden Circle might be his most stylish and cool film yet. Just to a fault. There’s also the fact the movie never shies away from making shocking decisions in the narrative, ones that left me breathless and guessing. For all those reasons, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a movie I’ll gladly watch again. It’s a big pile of wonderful toys that just so happens to be missing anything you’ll hold onto forever.