The release of the original Kingsman: The Secret Service back in 2014 was one that certainly turned heads. Despite polarizing opinions and having divided critics, it was a success as it brought unusual, off-beat elements into the otherwise serious spy movie genre. Over-the-top violence and dark humor were the name of the game for the first Kingsman film. Will its sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle be able to take the throne this time as well?
In The Golden Circle, perhaps The Secret Service should have just remained a secret, as this film leaves us with black circles around the eyes, wondering what really happened.
As of late, studios have really been pushing it in the marketing department. Who can forget how aggressively promoted Captain America: Civil War was? Kingsman: The Golden Circle had a wonderful trailer that really built up hype and anticipation for the film, but the trailer is also where the problem starts. At times, the trailer teased too much. Colin Firth’s Galahad surviving the events of the first Kingsman film could have had a powerful impact in The Golden Circle, if it weren’t for the fact that trailers revealed that he had indeed survived. Then there are moments when the trailer literally teased us, leaving us feeling disappointed because we would never get what was hinted at. Channing Tatum is a great actor, but his appearance in this film is so minimal to the point where nothing much would change if he weren’t in the film. The trailer really gives you a false impression that he would play a major role in The Golden Circle. It leaves you wondering if his short appearance in the film is due to budget constraints. The whole tease in the trailer really backfires in The Golden Circle.
This film’s saving grace is a surprise which was never teased in the trailer: The appearance of Elton John as himself. His addition to the movie is a delight, and is perhaps one of the highlights in the film. His scenes are hilarious, well-done, and the veteran singer can certainly hold his own as an actor. For a character whose appearance is unexpected, his role is significantly bigger than Channing Tatum who was teased in the trailer. Perhaps the cost to hire Elton John was the reason why they couldn’t feature Channing Tatum as much as he truly deserves to be?
Another major problem with The Golden Circle is the villain development. A well-developed villain can really bring a film to life. Julianne Moore is certainly no slouch and is an amazing actress, and the opening sequence in which she is introduced is mind-blowing, especially the meat-grinding human burger scene, but other than that, the script she’s given and development she has is quite lackluster. Throughout the film, her motivations as a villain are weak, and when our heroes eventually reach her hidden base, she is pretty much powerless and isn’t even able to put up a fight. Sure, comparing to the how well Samuel L. Jackson played the villain in the previous film may be a little unfair, but with a talent as great as Julianne Moore, you’d want to see her at least try to fight or do something major to fight back, but she really doesn’t do much other than have a wicked plan.
And that brings us to the script. The story of The Golden Circle starts off very well, but halfway through, the film just loses itself and starts to go around golden circles. The plot is full of plot holes which can confuse even casual movie-goers, and the build up is just not there. The focus seems to be a bit too heavy on Eggsy, Harry and Merlin. What is incredibly disappointing is that Channing Tatum and Halle Berry are criminally underused in this film. They’re so criminally underused, perhaps they should have been the criminals in this film in the first place.
When the script seems to be turning into something really ridiculous and hitting a dead end, it begins to rely on over-the-top humor and violence. At some point, it does work, as the action scenes (especially the meat grinder and ski scenes) are truly entertaining. However, some of the humor feels forced and unnecessary, and prolonged beyond necessity. The whole scene where Eggsy is forced to implant a detector using a contraceptive just felt uncomfortable. It’s so uncomfortable that it leaves you wondering if The Golden Circle is made out of real gold of fake gold. The stereotypes emphasized in the film are also not funny and border on being very harsh and offensive.
It’s quite sad, because this film has a lot of potential. It has a lot of amazing action scenes and fun concepts. Elton John totally rules in this film. And both meat grinder scenes could certainly qualify as 2017’s most memorable. But just as a contraceptive is meant to prevent a child from being born, perhaps the contraceptive Eggsy was forced to use has prevented a great film from becoming a reality.
To quote a line in the film, “What happens in Glastonbury, stays in Glastonbury”. Perhaps, the scriptwriters were too high to realize that the script should have read “What started as a secret, should have stayed as a secret.”