Review: Kingsman 2 Comfortable with Familiarity

Written by Aaron Radcliff:

In 2014, director Matthew Vaughn graced us with the surprisingly fun and action-packed Kingsman: The Secret Service. What could’ve fallen into the doldrums of over-the-top action-comedies instead laid the foundation for a new franchise with quick wit, action, and a lovable cast. How would Vaughn capitalize on this…golden…opportunity with the sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle?

By doing the exact same as before but in excess.

This time out, Eggsy (Taron Egerton) and Merlin (Mark Strong) must pick up the pieces after the Kingsman is destroyed (it’s in the trailer, therefore, no spoilers). The duo travels to the United States to team up with the Statesman in order to stop the evil Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore) and her worldwide drug cartel, The Golden Circle, from killing millions of people through poisoned recreational drugs.

Now I’m someone who subscribes to the philosophy of not fixing something if it isn’t broken, but that isn’t something you should aspire to in any form of art. Use the successful aspects, sure, but expand and grow upon them.

The cast remains as enjoyable as they were in the first film while giving us new characters with agents from the Statesman organization. The action scenes are fun and over-the-top at times and there are plenty of quips in the writing to make the comedy stick and get some consistent laughs.

Where the film falters, however, is its ability to do more than just that. The motivations behind the villains don’t make much sense. One character wants to end the War on Drugs while another wants to let everyone die because they broke the law and they should suffer the consequences. Yeah, that totally doesn’t sound like anything going on in American politics, does it?

In short, Kingsman has a case of sequelitis. Everything just feels samey. We don’t develop the new characters much and the returning characters grow little. Serious plot aspects are explained away in just one or two lines, often in throw-away fashion.

Oh, and remember that super cool fight scene in the church from the first film with the cool angles and slowmo shots? That’s in this, too. Every. Single. Fight. It becomes old and nauseating at times.

Matthew Vaughn pulled out all the stops to make the first film work. That’s what helped it become such a surprise hit, but this feels like a color-by-numbers picture in movie form. All the slowmo zoom-in shots are blue, the funny one-liners are red, the over-the-top plot is white, and another controversial sex scene is green. Pull the paper back and you’ll find you’ve colored a Union Jack with a giant puke stain on it because you had to see the CGI inside of Poppy Delevingne’s vagina.

Does the franchise feel worn out after two films? Yes. Did more work need to be put in to make it on par with the first? Yes. Did I have fun? Yes.

I believe that to criticize is to help improve, as it should always be; point out the flaws to help improve the product and any future works, and there were quite a few in this film. However, you must also praise the good things so people know what to look back on as the right thing to do in the future. The action and comedy are what I came for and I got it.

Kingsman is meant to be dumb fun with a goofy plot and it delivers that. The novelty has worn off and the heart is missing, but if you just want to see fun fights, one-liners, and Elton John kung fu-kicking someone in the face (yes, that happens), then you’ll get it here and most likely leave happy.

Score: 6 out of 10

Photo via 20th Century Fox


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