Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

“Manners. Maketh. Man.”

A true gentlewoman or gentleman will escort his or her friends to the nearest theater this weekend to see the latest Kingsman film. In this incredible sequel to the 2014 film Kingsman: The Secret Service, a group of British spies known as the Kingsman work with their American counterparts – the Statesman – to save millions of people from a villain’s deadly scheme. The plot may sound familiar; echoing spy movies like the James Bond franchise, Melissa McCarthy’s Spy, and the Mission: Impossible franchise follow the ‘save the world’ model. But the Kingsman franchise’s strong scripts and casting create a zany and unique experience.

I was afraid of how this sequel would turn out about twenty seconds into the film. The Golden Circle starts suddenly with a chase sequence that felt random at first – and an exact replica of the first film – but halfway through the scene, the action changed and won me over. From there, my faith in the franchise returned. Much of my restored faith came from the diversity of the film, in both the action and in the jokes. Even when considering the first film, The Golden Circle, makes each of its action scenes distinct by selecting different locations – such as the fight scene at the bar which had a different vibe from the rumble in the jungle, for instance. The Statesmen’s American weapons contribute to this; one segment of action will focus on using a modified shotgun while others showcase deadly lassos and chewing gum. With these weapons, the Statesmen constantly change the action sequences and comment on American culture.

I’m willing to bet that anyone who went to this film blindfolded would still love it. On top of its action sequences, The Golden Circle promises 141 minutes of laughs. Julianne Moore, who plays a charmingly twisted businesswoman, leads the comedy with her well-timed puns, but rest assured, all of the cast members, from Taron Egerton to Pedro Pascal, have their funny moments too.

The only joke in the film that didn’t sit well with me involved a sex-based mission (slight spoliers here). In one sequence, spies secretly insert a tracking device intravenously through someone’s genitals. The recipient consents to the touching, but the spy inserts the device without that person’s knowledge. It’s meant to be a funny, sexy moment, but felt invasive enough detract from the intended humor.

(If you want to go into the film completely spoiler-free, skip this paragraph) The Kingsman films make a point to have philosophically interesting villains. The first film featured Samuel L. Jackson as Richmond Valentine, an elitist CEO who wants to save some of humanity from climate change by decimating the population. In The Golden Circle, Julianne Moore’s Poppy plans on forcing the United States to end the War on Drugs through violent means. To that end, writers Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn show us which situations lead people to take drugs and how that impacts other people. These writers spend time showing alternate perspectives on drugs laws and drug use that make the audience question which of the factions to root for (though with millions of lives in the balance, you’ll end up with the Kingsman).

Ultimately, Kingsman: The Golden Circle is a high-energy comedy worth considering. Maketh your way to the movies this weekend.