When their headquarters are destroyed and the world is held hostage, the Kingsman's journey leads them to the discovery of an allied spy organization in the US. These two elite secret organizations must band together to defeat a common enemy.
In 2014, 'Kingsman: The Secret Service' surprised everyone with an audacious screenplay, visceral action and a completely self-aware premise. It went on to become a sleeper hit that begged for a sequel. But does the follow-up meet everyone's expectations? It's certainly no easy task to recapture that lightning-in-a-bottle success, but 'Kingsman: The Golden Circle' certainly tries to up the ante, keeping the same tongue-in-cheek humour intact, along with gritty action and a cast of well-known names. Its problem stems from the fact that it doesn't know exactly when to pull back, in an excessive effort to surpass its predecessor.
The story is one that we're all quite familiar with - a psychotic villain holds the world, or at least the US, hostage in an absolutely preposterous manner. Our heroes need to save the day, but the odds are stacked against them when their resources are taken away. In order to make it even more challenging, they need to earn the trust of their new allies, and again that's a two-way street. Throw in some crazy bad guys and we have a neat little package. But 'The Golden Circle' still has some tricks up its sleeve. Since action is the primary focus, there's some nifty editing and camerawork that makes it much easier to follow, reminiscent of the insane chapel sequence in the 'The Secret Service'. In the acting department, Taron Egerton, Mark Strong, Pedro Pascal and Julianne Moore are all effective in their respective roles, but it's a missed opportunity by not saving Colin Firth's return as a shocking surprise. On the other hand, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum and Jeff Bridges feel underutilized - undoubtedly being reserved for the next entry in this franchise.
This also means there's a lot of fluff this time around which could have been done away with, to make it a leaner, meaner screenplay. But the cast, and director Matthew Vaughn seem to have had a lot of fun making this movie and that essence translates well on screen too. As long as you don't expect it to be a genre-defying blockbuster, get comfortable and enjoy 'The Golden Circle' for what it's worth. If nothing else, check it out for Elton John playing an extremely colorful version of himself - and that's saying something!