With robotic arms seeming to move of their own accord and mechanical mutts as futuristic guard-dogs, it may be right to question if you are instead watching the new Transformers sequel – you are not, but Kingsman: The Golden Circle is equally as bonkers.
After the not so favourable reception of Sam Mendes’s Spectre, it would appear that everyone’s favourite spy, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) is back as the foul-mouthed, well dressed Kingsman agent. The headquarters and homes of the Kingsman operatives have been blown halfway to hell, and the words on everyone’s lips are of a mysterious organisation known only as the Golden Circle. A string of coincidences lead Eggsy and his surviving comrade Merlin (Mark Strong) to discover their American counterparts, the Statesman. Forces align as they attempt to take down Poppy (Julianne Moore) and her institution of drug production and trafficking – all while retaining the wit and charm of true gentleman, of course.
Kingsman: The Secret Service was a major success, and saw director Matthew Vaughn recycling much of the formula used for the 2010 superhero-smash Kick Ass; rather than subverting and revitalising the masked-crusader sub-genre, Vaughn decided to revise the spy genre, and was met with great success. After what seems a procedural three-year anticipation, the inevitable sequel has arrived, managing all the aspects many loved about the first film whilst further enhancing the explosive elements with even more wacky and farfetched situations and set-pieces. Meat grinders mincing conscious human victims to produce food fed to raised eyebrows and humorously materialised contraceptive tracking devices are welcome additions to a package already considered offbeat; and if that simply fails to amaze, then Elton John as a captive prisoner performing his beloved music to interruptions of outraged cursing is sure to incite a grin.
The film’s exposition introduces the audience back to a universe of sharp suits and gleaming gadgets – just outside Kingsman tailors in London. Eggsy exits the prestigious establishment only to be met by a familiar face not quite as dashing as memory serves. Instantly erupting the narrative with a fight and chase sequence through the lamp-lit streets, Vaughn’s over-stylisation may seem incredibly excessive and rampageous, and not exactly in a good way. The overblown presentation of this action sequence in particular draws way too much attention to the scene as a construct, rather than encouraging any belief in what is being shown. Cars are crashing and guns are firing, but the camera is so drastically mobile that it appears practically indecipherable in numerous frames of movement. This ludicrous exposition certainly sets the tone and pace of the film, but fortunately, sequences of this ilk seem more appropriately handled as the narrative progresses, and as the new characters are introduced and established, the expensive arrangements they are involved in pay more attention to the actions of the cast than just slovenly montage.
What is most entertaining about this sequel is rather than just re-examining decades of applauded British cinema belonging to the spy genre, there is evidence that the entire team involved made an effort to make it as bizarre as they possibly could without deterring mainstream audiences. The characters many loved from the first film are back, but the sequel is not restricted to the duties of its predecessor, of which were to introduce and establish engaging personalities. The Golden Circle does do this, but only has to do so with surrounding characters – of which it is not quite so successful. The new additions are surely welcome, but the inclusions of actors such as Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum feel undercut in roles that seem to exist as decoration. The quintessentially British parody of the first film is handled in the context of American representation, but the caricatures are not as acutely observed and feel forced for the sheer purpose of branching out the narrative into different locations.
There may not feel enough to warrant a sequel of such a long duration, but Vaughn makes sure the audience is present for a good time with the frequent employment of visually appealing tableau in this often deranged pastiche. Kingsman: The Golden Circle might not be the turbulent sequel everyone had hoped for, but for those not expecting it to possess the fun of the first, it is a disordered yet rousing stroll through a directors enjoyment in bamboozling genres.