Verdict: Even with a bigger cast and fancier gadgets, Eggsy's the winner.
The sequel to the 2014 film, Kingsman: The Secret Service, has been one of the most anticipated movies of the year. A year after the first film, the unrefined Eggsy (Taron Egerton, who lives and breathes the role) has now officially become a Kingsman agent, Galahad. He saved the world before and now he's back to do it again.
With the destruction of Kingsman Headquarters, Eggsy and Merlin (Mark Strong) head to the land of the free for some assistance and hilarious cultural exchanges. Yes, they come from the same line of work, but the two couldn't be any more different. The Kingsman Tailors are sophisticated yet humble Savile Row establishment. The Statesman? Not so much. They made a fortune selling whiskey, made in a sprawling estate in Kentucky. If the founders of the secret agency knew that the demand for liquor would exceed the need for bespoke suits in the 21st century, perhaps The Kingsman would have put up a whole different business as a front altogether.
The Statesmen are all well-known faces. Jeff Bridges plays the strong-handed leader of the group, Champ. Next is Channing Tatum's Tequila, his second role with a charming Southern accent this year. Halle Berry who plays Ginger is an underused tech-wiz of the group, helping the field agents from behind the screens. But even with the big names, Pedro Pascal's Whiskey is the Statesman that makes the strongest impression.
Eggsy's also now dating the princess who he saved last time, Tilde (Hanna Alström). But the chemistry between Egerton and Firth is the strongest. Colin Firth's return to the Kingsman series after his character, Harry Hart, was shot dead was risky, but his return from the dead is handled well. After all, Kingsman would be a little hollow without his stately nature.
Also making a return from the dead is Charlie Hesketh (Edward Holcroft), a failed Kingsman recruit who joined the dark side. He ticks the necessary bionic-limbs checkbox for the film, this time with an arm instead of two blade-wielding legs.
The big bad wolf in this film is the titular, The Golden Circle, an organization that has the monopoly over all the illegal drugs in the market. Its head is Poppy (Julianne Moore), a Harvard graduate who has all the qualities fit to become a CEO or a psychopath. Ruthless, smart, and above all, peppy, she runs her organization like the finest Fortune 500 company. But even with the profits, the head of a criminal organization is still a criminal. So she lives in Cambodian ruins but not without some old-fashioned 50s nostalgia. Her retro headquarters Poppyland is a mix of old and new – it has a diner and a bowling alley, but also a robotic hairdresser and pets.
Kingsman: The Golden Circle manages to retain the spirit of the original. It rightly takes everything from the first film and dials it up and then some more. The foul-mouthed humor paired with witty quips is just one of the good parts of the movie. It's also stylish as ever, although business formal in Southern USA means something quite different, everyone is dressed to their best.
Why You Should Watch This Film:
If you enjoyed the outlandish violence and cheeky humor of the first film, this one won't let you down. But if you haven't, it's a great introduction to the larger-than-life world of Kingsman. It's also got an extended cameo by Elton John whose theatrical energy fits right into the film. But mostly, watch Kingsman: The Golden Circle to have a good time.