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Kingsman: The Golden Circle – Entertainingly revels in its absurdity

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Kingsman: The Golden CircleWith the new film, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, I wonder if the James Bond author/creator, Ian Fleming, is laughing out loud while on his clandestine cloud in the afterlife, or if he is just rolling in his grave? Because this movie takes the absurdity of the super-spy genre (the films in particular) and amps the ridiculousness level up to 11 (probably even higher.)

This is the most over-the-top film you are likely to see this year and if you get it, it mostly works – although it skips a lot of beats and some of the expensive onscreen dumbness is, well, just plain dumb. This sequel to the 2014 film, Kingsman: The Secret Service, is also way overlong and wastes a lot of talent; yet, somehow, it’s still very entertaining.

Although it’s not completely necessary, you’ll enjoy this movie more if you’ve seen (and/or refreshed your memory of) the first film. There were parts where I didn’t know what the heck was going on, but assumed they were from something in the first movie I had forgotten. That said, I’ll try to refresh your memory a bit.

Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) is the unruly son of a deceased British secret agent. The young man is taken into the Kingsman spy organization and trained by his father’s former friend, Harry Hart /Galahad (Colin Firth) to be the ultimate spy. The two go on to save the world, but Galahad is killed in the line of duty – so we thought (no spoilers there if you’ve seen the trailer or movie posters.)

This time around, Eggsy takes on super-villainess Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the world’s biggest drug kingpin and 1950s’ retro-diner fan; and she’s is upset that she is not recognized for her keen entrepreneurial abilities. Moore’s character and performance – not to mention her hidden hideout’s cool kitsch – are among the fun highlights of this movie.

Poppy is working with Eggsy’s former Kingsman teammate and rival, Charlie (Edward Holcroft), who now sports a deadly bionic arm. The pair holds the world ransom for the antidote to a disease that plagues the users of their illicit drugs; and as part of their plot they also destroy most of the operatives in the Kingsman service.

Kingsman: The Golden CircleTogether with fellow secret service survivor, Merlin (Mark Strong), the two Brits team-up with their US counterparts, called “The Statesmen,” whose operatives all have codes names related to alcoholic beverages and are spoofs of the American cowboy stereotype.

The Statesmen team includes Tequila (Channing Tatum); the whip-wielding Whiskey (Pedro Pascal); their folksy leader, Champagne (Jeff Bridges); and their technical specialist, Ginger (Halle Berry).

The Channing Tatum character is mostly a gimmick who is literally on-ice for most of the movie. A huge waste of talent and I think his fans are going to be disappointed, especially given the way Tatum’s face is all over the marketing of this film. Halle Berry, also, is almost completely useless here. She’s a talented actress, but for this small role it could have been almost anybody.

The standout here is Pedro Pascal, whom you might remember as Oberyn Martell on the Game of Thrones HBO series. The actor comically channels Burt Reynolds, he easily has the best spy toy and he shines in a lot of great scenes.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle has a lot of good music and also stars Elton John as himself, to mostly satisfying effect. There are insane action sequences that play with the tunes, but I would have liked to see director Matthew Vaughn and his longtime collaborator, writer Jane Goldman, show a little more discipline, as it’s all a little too much by the time were two hours into this movie.

As much as your kids are going to want to see this film, keep in mind that it is rated “R” for good reason. This new Kingsman is ridiculous fun, but not ridiculously funny. When it hits its mark it’s great, but there are a lot of wasted bullets. Grade: 6/10

Photos Copyright © 2017 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.