wed 13/12/2017

Kingsman: The Golden Circle review - too much of everything | reviews, news & interviews

Kingsman: The Golden Circle review - too much of everything

Kingsman: The Golden Circle review - too much of everything

The curse of the sequel strikes again

Spy games: Taron Egerton, Colin Firth and Pedro Pascal

Take one off-the-wall spoof spy thriller that becomes an unexpected hit. Add a bunch of gratuitous guest stars (mostly American). Stretch formula to 140 minutes. Stand clear and wait for the box office stampede.

This seems to have been the recipe for this follow-up to 2015’s Kingsman: The Secret Service, likewise helmed by Matthew Vaughn, who once again wrote the screenplay with Jane Goldman. Sadly, much of what made the first film work has vanished this time around. Despite having apparently died in the first one, Colin Firth is back as Harry Hart, but his aura of fastidiously hand-tailored reassurance is no longer a dominant presence. The original’s back story of how Eggsy Unwin (Taron Egerton) was rescued from a chavvy life of crime and domestic violence to join the elite Kingsman spy organisation lent a hint of dramatic weight, but The Golden Circle chucks all that overboard in favour of hyperbole, excess and a plot concocted from random collisions of freakish disconnected events.What's disappointing is the way the guest roles are mere stubs that might have been expanded into something vastly superior. Take Julianne Moore, playing baddie-in-chief Poppy Adams, who controls the entire global supply of illegal drugs from her jungle lair in Cambodia, where she's surrounded by kitsch 1950s Americana and some ferocious robotic dogs. She retains the services of a bad-tempered Sir Elton John to provide entertainment in her private theatre.

A bit more elbow grease in the screenwriting department could have given Moore boundary-busting opportunities instead of just smooth, smirking malevolence. Meanwhile, Channing Tatum’s appearance as Agent Tequila (pictured above), from the US intelligence agency which disguises itself as Statesman (distillers of Kentucky bourbon), falls into a pit of invisibility after a couple of early appearances, while Halle Berry is relegated to the kind of techno-nerd role currently occupied much more characterfully by Ben Whishaw in the Bond movies. Jeff Bridges gets a few seconds to bluster gruffly as Champagne (“call me Champ”), the boss of Statesman (pictured below, Mark Strong and Halle Berry).

Only Pedro Pascal, playing sharp-shootin’, six-gun-slingin’, lasso-whirlin’ Agent Whiskey, manages to rise luridly above his surroundings, though Sir Elton earns more kudos than might have been anticipated for his bellicose display of tantrum-throwing, expletive-spattered diva-dom. His reward is an exhibition of slo-mo airborne kick-boxing, courtesy of the CGI department.The story, if that’s what we must call it, requires Poppy to obliterate almost all the Kingsmen, except Eggsy and his handler Merlin (Mark Strong, fighting a losing battle against the world’s least plausible Scottish accent and a tragic obsession with singing John Denver songs). Then Poppy infects the world with a virus built into her drug supply, which will kill millions of people unless the US President (a cavalier Bruce Greenwood) gives Poppy exclusive rights to sell her drugs legally. However, the deranged Prez calls her bluff and cheerfully cages-up all those pesky drug-takers in football stadiums to await their inevitable demise.

It’s hard to describe, since logic and proportion (not to mention taste) left the building before the opening credits. The best bit of special effects involves a cable car crashing spectacularly down a mountain, amid Alpine scenes suspiciously reminiscent of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The Worst Performance award is a comfortable win for Poppy Delevingne, who is to acting what Kryptonite is to Superman. She suffers the indignity of having Eggsy plant a tracking device inside her vagina, which gives you some idea of the elegance and finesse which distinguishes the screenplay. Be warned, people – a third instalment is already in the pipeline.

Sir Elton earns more kudos than might have been anticipated for his display of tantrum-throwing, expletive-spattered diva-dom

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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