There’s a moment towards the end of unexpected 2014 hit ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ that always felt strangely out of step with the rest of the film. For those who enjoyed it, the film was an imaginative shot of Tarantino-esque anarchy injected into the spy genre, along with some genuine heart and wit, but this one moment (and anyone who has seen it will know exactly which moment I mean) was crass, problematic and unnecessary - and for many, ruined everything that came before it. Well, in hindsight, that moment was a warning of things to come, because for some inexplicable reason, the anticipated sequel ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ is basically that one shitty moment extended to two and a half hours.
After the Kingsman are wiped out, the survivors Eggsy (Taron Egerton, ‘Testament of Youth’, ‘Eddie The Eagle’) and Merlin (Mark Strong, ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, ‘The Imitation Game’) team up with their U.S. equivalent the Statesman, led by Champ (Jeff Bridges, ‘True Grit’, ‘The Big Lebowski’). Together, they aim to take down drug kingpin Poppy (Julianne Moore, ‘Still Alice’, ‘Wonderstruck’) who threatens the planet with a poison hidden inside her elicit substances which could kill millions.
As a big fan of the first film, the nosedive into turgid mediocrity that the franchise has taken with this film is crushing, especially as everything about this film feels completely incongruous to the original. Director Matthew Vaughan (‘X-Men: First Class’, ‘Kick-Ass’) and co-writer Jane Goldman (‘The Limehouse Golem’, ‘Stardust’) haphazardly throw a list of the most putrid of male fantasies together into some form of plot (one that barely makes sense or moves with any kind of inertia), with Vaughan approaching every moment with obnoxious, juvenile sound and fury, well and truly signifying nothing. Where the first film had at least a few interesting female characters, here women are nothing more than objects of manipulation and objectification, all blonde and needy and easily manipulated, and every single male character (even the great ones from the first film) is unlikable and generally pretty rancid. It was as if the film makes an active effort to actually be as provocative and offensive as it can possibly be, leaving me wonder how on earth anyone thought any of the sex jokes, the flashes of putrid male chauvinism or allusions of sexual manipulation and rape were ever a good idea. You can’t even appreciate it for its technical work, each element as ill-conceived and messy as the next. There’s a sense this film has no idea what it wants to be – the tone is inconsistent, the performances are all out of sync, and even the score seems to think it’s a far more serious movie than it actually is.
Basically, imagine the worst kind of Kingsman fan fiction written by a spotty pubescent teenage boy with raging hormones, anger management issues and trouble getting a girl to like him, and you pretty much have ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’.
Basically, imagine the worst kind of Kingsman fan fiction written by a spotty pubescent teenage boy with raging hormones, anger management issues and trouble getting a girl to like him, and you pretty much have ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’. Even actors like Julianne Moore and returning Colin Firth (why is he even back?!) can’t lend gravitas to this fart-filled balloon of a film. Much like what happened with Matthew Vaughan’s ‘Kick-Ass’, this sequel ignores everything you loved about the original and takes literally the one thing everyone hated about it, and spun a whole film out of it. No matter how many explosions they’ve put in it, the only spectacle that comes out of this film is watching it all fall apart.
PICTURE & SOUND
The film might look awful, but the 1080p 2.39:1 transfer is still very impressive, replicating the film’s shiny polished look with great clarity and popping colours. It also betrays the short-fallings in the visuals of the film itself, but I doubt you’d want to see the film looking any better. The DTS-HD MA 7.1 track is aggressive and punchy, much like the obnoxious sound design, but it’s always clear and well-balanced, and creates an enveloping audio experience. Overall, a pretty great presentation for a film that doesn’t deserve it.
Much like the release of the first film, the bulk of the material comes in the feature ‘Kingsman: Inside the Golden Circle’, a series of nine featurettes that play together as a single feature (1:57:13). They cover most aspects of the production (including the film’s bizarre cameo), and feature most of the major players, but as with all BTS videos of bad films, you wonder how any of them could be so enthusiastic. The opening car chase is explored more closely in ‘Black Cab Chaos: Anatomy of a Killer Chase’ (12:49), while the rest of the disc holds Concept and Behind The Scenes galleries and the theatrical trailers.