Colin Firth is not dead. Julianne Moore puts a man through a mixer and turns his brains into hamburger. Literally.
These are just a few odd twists that give “Kingsman: The Golden Circle,” the same high-octane energy and dynamism of its 2014 predecessor, “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” Sequels have an immense burden to bear by their very nature. They often fail heinously and retread old ground. Not in this case.
The story opens on our protagonist Eggsy Unwin, played by Taron Egerton. He is an agent with the Kingsman, a British underground intelligence operation, disguised as a tailor shop. The story takes place a year after he and the Kingsman vanquished Richmond Valentine, a wealthy megalomaniac seeking world domination. Unwin has also saved a Swedish princess. Of course, she is his present girlfriend. Why? Because that is the logic of spy movies.
Trouble invariably follows. Unwin is accosted by Charlie Hesketh, a former failed Kingsman trainee turned criminal. A high-speed car chase ensues and comedy abounds here. Unwin hangs out an open door. At one point, he does a backflip onto the roof. He also fights his way to victory using fists and hi-tech gadgets. The movie delights in this ridiculousness, but it works because we are in on the joke.
Charlie has a cybernetic arm, which is severed in the melee, and proceeds to hack into Kingsman’s servers. Missiles subsequently destroy all Kingsman properties, killing every agent except for Unwin and his trainer Merlin, played by Mark Strong. They proceed to hunt down the culprits.
The hunt leads Unwin and Merlin to Kentucky, where they discover their American intelligence counterpart, Statesmen. They also discover that Unwin’s mentor Harry Hart, played by Colin Firth, has not died, as the original movie implied. With assistance from Statesmen they hunt down a terrorist agency called “The Golden Circle” headed by Poppy Adams, played superbly by Julianne Moore. She is a chipper, yet maniacal drug kingpin who relishes a drug-addled version of the American dream.
In a delightful twist, Adams has a certain odd nostalgia for the 1950s. Her 1950s-themed headquarters in the Cambodian jungle feature a movie theater, bowling alley and soda shop, which radiate a kind of ironic wholesomeness. This is just one detail that gives the movie strength and keeps things original.
“My drugs are everywhere,” Adams says. “The only downside is having to live in the middle of nowhere.”
Adams has injected a lethal toxin into various recreational drugs. She also conveniently has an antidote, which she offers the world. The catch: The President of the United States must end the war on drugs. Suffice it to say the President has his own schemes in mind. Naturally, the task of moral leadership falls upon Unwin and the Kingsman.
Should you see this movie? Absolutely. Especially if you love blood-filled chases and Elton John.
The movie has a strong arc along with a first-rate cast, including a hilariously foul-mouthed Elton John. However, its one uneven moment stems from its commentary on the War on Drugs. On one hand, Poppy Adams bemoans a country that worships alcohol but condemns drugs. On the other hand, only by shutting down the drug empire can equilibrium be restored. In general, the movie is imbued with humor, energy and the power to keep its characters fighting.
“Just know that having something to lose makes life worth living,” Harry Hart proclaims. The stakes could not be clearer.
Movie: “Kingsman: The Golden Circle.”
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Release Date: Sept. 22, 2017
Running Time: 2 hrs, 21 mins
Playing at: Cinemark Movie Bistro and XD, Cinemark Fort Collins 16 and AMC Classic Fort Collins 10
Fun Fact: Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore were also both in “The Big Lebowski.”
Collegian reporter Mir-Yashar Seyedbagheri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Twitter handle is @dudesosad.