Kingsman: The Golden Circle has faults as a film. Though director Matthew Vaughn fixed a few things that were problematic in the first film, he created new problems in the sequel. But having said that, I enjoyed watching the movie because it’s a crazy mess.
This review of Kingsman: The Golden Circle contains a lot of spoilers! You’ve been warned!
The Golden Circle picks up sometime after the events that took place in The Secret Service. Eggsy (Taron Egerton) has settled into his life as a British spy, working with Roxy (Sophie Cookson) and Merlin (Mark Strong). The loss of Harry (Colin Firth) is still felt but the Kingsman have to keep going.
After Poppy blows up their headquarters, Eggsy and Merlin find the Statesman. What follows are over-the-top action sequences as our heroes try to save the world. The entire movie is an adrenaline rush with some heartfelt moments.
We get an explanation about Harry’s return. He’s suffering from amnesia, though. Merlin and Eggsy do what they can to bring back his memories and it’s Eggsy who succeeds by triggering Harry’s memories of when he was asked to shoot his dog during training.
The dynamics between Harry and Eggsy is one of the best things in this franchise. I’m glad that Matthew Vaughn decided to bring Harry back. It’s so much fun seeing Colin Firth doing action sequences. The final scene where they both team up to take down Poppy and her goons is awesome! There’s blood, explosions, robot dogs, and stunning fight choreography.
If you’re looking for an action-packed popcorn movie, The Golden Circle delivers.
One of the biggest criticisms that the first film in the franchise was about sexism. Princess Tilde of Sweden was introduced as Valentine’s captive who is saved by Eggsy and promises him sex as a reward. While I get that rewarding a hero is a trope, the film actually showed the scene for laughs, using Princess Tilde as an object. Matthew Vaughn could’ve ended the movie when Eggsy entered Tilde’s prison cell but nopes, that’s not Vaughn’s style. He even countered the criticism by mansplaining sexism and female empowerment.
So, of course, I had low expectations as far as female portrayal is concerned in The Golden Circle. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Eggsy continued being in a relationship with Princess Tilde, which is something that can’t be said about James Bond and his numerous love interests. I guess that unnecessary scene from the first film meant something.
Both Eggsy and Tilde love each other. She also plays a significant role as far as her relationship with Eggsy goes. So, that was sweet to see. Also, I liked how we saw Eggsy marrying a princess. In media, we have the girl wishing for a Prince Charming to come to them. However, in The Golden Circle, it’s Eggy’s wish to someday marry a princess and I enjoyed the trope-reversal.
Having said all of that, The Golden Circle still has its faults. I don’t know if Roxy is still alive or not but it’s implied that she’s dead along with the rest of the Kingsman agents because of Poppy’s (Julianne Moore) attack. I liked Roxy from the first film. She wasn’t used as a love interest and played her part in taking down the main villain. Maybe we’ll see her again in the third movie? I do hope so!
While there wasn’t any uncomfortable sex scene in the film, Vaughn tried to push the envelope in another way. This time Eggsy had to plant a tracker into a woman (played by Poppy Delevingne). But he could only plant it through her vagina because even though the Statesman had technology that could bring people back to life after being shot in the head, they’re lacking innovative thinking when it comes to creating better tracking gadgets.
The whole scene was done in poor taste, especially how the camera followed Eggsy’s finger and into the female character. I could imagine Vaughn giggling when he wrote it. Even Taron wasn’t comfortable with the scene. They had to bring in Poppy Delevingne’s husband to play Eggsy’s hand for crying out loud.
I mean, come on! If the actor is uncomfortable doing something, the director should realize that perhaps the scene might be too cringe-worthy for the audience, too. It brought nothing to the story. But then again, Vaughn probably doesn’t care.
Also, for those of you wondering, the female character dies. She was just there to be used. Sigh! I’m interested in hearing what Poppy Delevingne has to say about that scene.
Coming to the less-problematic female portrayal in the film, Halle Berry joins the cast as Ginger Ale, the tech-support for the Statesman. Except for Pedro Pascal, the rest of the Statesman (Channing Tatum, Halle, and Jeff Bridges) have minor supporting roles. You can describe Jeff Bridges’ role as an extended cameo.
Halle did do a great job playing Ginger. Even though she didn’t have a lot to work with, her acting has been praised as being one of the best after Monsters Ball. I’m a fan of Halle but she isn’t Meryl Streep, who, unlike Halle, can make every role her own. The thing that worked here is that even though Ginger’s a supporting character, she had enough layers for Halle to bring something out and that’s why she was able to act well.
The film also used Ginger to show workplace sexism in the Statesman. Though the organization is racially diverse, Ginger isn’t allowed to go into the field, something she really wants to do, because Whiskey (Pedro Pascal) keeps voting against her. Even when Pedro’s Whiskey is dead, she still isn’t the first choice to be offered the role of field agent (even though she’s been working for the Statesman for years) because Bridges’ Champ offers it to Harry and Eggsy.
Halle has described her role as Ginger’s introduction. By the end of The Golden Circle she takes up the title of Whiskey (after Harry and Eggsy refuse the position) so hopefully, we’ll get to see more of her in the future.
The main villain, Poppy, is played amazingly by Julianne Moore. She’s crazy, but Julianne is still able to bring a sense of sweetness to her role. She’s a drug lord but can’t be recognized as a successful business person. So, she decides to take revenge on the entire world. She’s also obsessed with the 50s era.
Poppy wants to legalize drugs so that she can take her place as the best business person in the world. The first film made use of people’s obsession with using cell phones and wanting free cell phone services. The second film picks another real-world problem and raises the ante.
Drugs and their legalization is a topic that’s discussed a lot. While the film doesn’t give a final solution, it still makes some good points regarding addiction and politicians wanting to get rid of addicts. The movie even shows people infected by Poppy’s drug being piled into cages because the world doesn’t care about ‘junkies’ enough to strike a deal with a villain.
Some thoughts and questions:
- I have a feeling that Elton John decided to be a part of this film so he could curse, sing, and fight bad guys in the most flamboyant costumes!
- I was not expecting Merlin to die.
- Harry again has queer-related jokes related to him. In the first film, he mentioned having a male lover to the crazy people in the church. In The Golden Circle, he’s called a faggot. I don’t know if Vaughn is hinting at a queer Harry Hart or such queer jokes are just another part of his tasteless humor.
- I liked Pedro Pascal as Whiskey. Showing his character as someone who’s sexist didn’t feel right. Maybe they did it so the audience wouldn’t feel bad when he died?
- I want more Halle Berry!
What did you think of Kingsman: The Golden Circle? Let us know.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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